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Federer Back On His Own Terms

Melbourne, Australia

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer is confident of a very good 2014 season.

Roger Federer is confident his best tennis remains ahead of him after what he labelled an “encouraging” start to the season following a difficult period on the ATP World Tour.

The Swiss finished outside the Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in 12 years last season as a back injury hampered his results during the first seven months of the year. But with newly appointed Stefan Edberg in his corner for the 2014 season, Federer remarked after his Australian Open semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal that he is finally able to play tennis on his own terms again.

His only lingering regret from Melbourne, where he contested his 57th successive Grand Slam championship, will be missing out on contesting the first all-Swiss Grand Slam final against Stanislas Wawrinka.

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“It's very encouraging, no doubt,” said Federer, who has been playing with a larger racquet head since the start of the season. “I wish I could have won here tonight and then given an all-Swiss final. That's something I'll regret for a long time. 

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“I think this is a very good start to the season for me overall. I played some really good tennis here. I still feel my best tennis is only ahead of me right now. So I'm looking forward to the next couple of months, how they're going to play out for me, and hopefully by April I feel like I'm going to be at 100 per cent again.”

Critics were quick to pounce on Federer last season, with defeats to World No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky and No. 114 Federico Delbonis in the space of a month a cause for concern for the 17-time major champion. But the 2014 Australian Open has seen Federer return to near his best tennis, highlighted by impressive performances against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray carrying him to an 11th successive semi-final at Melbourne Park. This also marked Federer's 34th Grand Slam semifinal and extended the record he broke at 2012 Wimbledon for the most Grand Slam semifinal appearances.

Grand Slam Semi-finals Reached (All-Time)
Player No. of GS SFs
Roger Federer 34
Jimmy Connors 31
Ivan Lendl 28
Andre Agassi 26
Ken Rosewall 25

“I needed a good moment again because I've been going through a tougher time for some time,” said Federer, who is next due to play at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February. “Even though you can say that Basel was better, Paris was better, London was better, the results were slightly better, but the game itself was not necessarily amazing. It was solid, but what I like to do is I like to take it to the guy. I like to be in command. That's what I was able to do now the last couple of weeks. So that's very encouraging. 

“I've come from far back. I didn't have surgery like Murray had or like Rafa with the [knee] problems, being out for seven months. I've played with something that has been going on for a while. This is a step in the right direction, and that's the way I want to go. I have a belief this could be a very good year for me again.”

Leading into his 33rd clash with Nadal, Federer had hinted at new ideas coach Edberg was bringing to the table to try and give the Swiss an edge. Those tactics, Federer explained, were given little chance due to the way Nadal played.

“I tried a few things,” said Federer. “I think Rafa does a good job of neutralising you. The problem was because I wasn't getting into enough service games. You're not going to try out a crazy amount of things on your own service games. There you need to play tough and aggressive and you just have to be solid. So I guess at times I couldn't quite do what I wanted to do, but that's because of Rafa.”

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