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Federer Focussed On Early Rounds In Cincinnati

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer won the Cincinnati title for a fourth time in 2010.

The US Open is two weeks away, but Roger Federer is solely focussed on the task at hand: winning the Western & Southern Open title for a fifth time.

“The preparation for New York, that’s going to happen next week. But this [isn’t] the preparation week, this is tournament week,” said Federer on Monday in  Cincinnati, ahead of his first appearance of the 2012 Emirates Airlines US Open Series.

By triumphing this week, Federer would match Rafael Nadal’s record mark of 21 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles and guarantee that he will be ranked No. 1 heading into the US Open. But the Swiss is not looking that far ahead. His past experience in Cincinnati has taught him the importance of taking it match by match.

“Honestly here either I play really, really well or sometimes I just play really bad, so that’s why the focus is big in the early rounds,” he explained.  “It’s true that once I get rolling here, I do play extremely well. I’ve always enjoyed coming here.”

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Federer, who is making his 12th tournament appearance, won the title in 2005, '07, and 2009-10, but has fallen prior to the quarter-finals on six visits. Following his third-round exit against Ivo Karlovic in 2008, he lost his No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking to Nadal for the first time.

He spoke of one area of his game that has evolved since his Cincinnati debut in 2000, explaining how he went from viewing the drop shot as a “panic shot” to an effective weapon in his arsenal.

“I was against it in the beginning was because I was playing a lot of guys who were on the baseline, conditions maybe were a bit faster back in the day so didn’t have really that many opportunities to hit drop shots,” he said. “There was a time where guys were staying way back in the court in particular on the return on hard court, on the clay court. I just realised it was very hard to hit through the guys time and time again, because they track down everything. Maybe by using the drop shot a bit more they have to play closer to the line; then it’s easier to hit through them again.

“But it took me some practise and then just some confidence of pulling off the drop shot as well when it was important, not just doing it at 40/love. That’s easy to do. It’s hard to do when you're trying to play the right way. The drop shot is not the first thing on your mind because it can’t be. It’s not an easy way out. It’s sort of a panic shot I thought back in the day. Today when I tell myself that the drop shot in an option before this next point, I very often also use it then and I use it to good effect.”

Federer will play the winner between Jarkko Nieminen and Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the second round.

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