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Fire Still Burning For Federer

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Federer© Henk KosterRoger Federer practised for an hour with Juan Martin del Potro on Monday.

World No. 3 Roger Federer declared his competitive fires are still burning brightly on Monday ahead of appearing as the top seed at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Since his last appearance in Rotterdam, seven years ago, Federer has won 12 more Grand Slam championships, taking his record-breaking total to 16 major trophies. But he has been forced to give way at the top of the South African Airways ATP Rankings to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, losing to the latter in the recent Australian Open semi-finals.

Now aged 30, and with a family – wife Mirka and twin daughters, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose – it was put to Federer that perhaps he might start to wind down now. It was a suggestion the Swiss quickly rebuked, instead declaring he is intent on returning to the World No. 1 spot, a position he held for 285 weeks.

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"I think I do [still] have the pressures of a World No. 1," said Federer. "That never really changes with all the success I’ve had. I have the same attention; there’s just different stories written. I’ve had a wonderful career so far. The fire is the same, basically. It’s just in terms of having a family now and not being World No. 1.

"But I take so much joy out of playing this sport and travelling the world still. I do care mostly about trying to win tournaments. That’s what’s important. That’s how I could get back to World No. 1 potentially. I have to get back to winning ways again after losing the last two, and I hope I can start doing that on Wednesday."

Federer first made his debut at the ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard-court tournament in Rotterdam in 1999, but is playing this year for the first time since 2005, when he won the title with victory over Ivan Ljubicic.

Read: "Federer Fearless At 30" In DEUCE

"I’m very happy to be back," said Federer, who went straight from Rotterdam airport to the Ahoy Stadium for a four-hour stint that included a pre-tournament press conference, a one-hour practice with Juan Martin del Potro, an autograph session with fans, and a meeting with corporate guests.

"I know this tournament from way back when; ’99 was my first time," continued the Basel native. "I played really well from the start and it’s a tournament I’ve always enjoyed coming back to. I can’t believe it’s been so long. This time around everything just seemed perfect and I’m really happy to be here and healthy after the Davis Cup weekend. I’m really excited about the Wednesday start for me."

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