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Federer Eager For Desert Delivery

Indian Wells, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer is seeking a fifth Indian Wells title.

There is something about the allure of a desert setting that energises Roger Federer.

A week after adding a record sixth crown at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the most decorated player in BNP Paribas Open history seeks a fifth title in his return to Indian Wells.

“I’m excited to play here in Indian Wells,” said Federer on Thursday. “I’m happy to see the hard work is paying off and the decisions I made midway through last year were the right ones. I am playing nicely now and pain-free, which is the goal. Winning cements that feeling. It’s more fun and it gives me confidence. It makes me more eager to play more and win more.”

Federer, who is off to a strong start in 2014 with 14 victories in 16 matches, admitted that he is playing more freely and thinking clearer than he was during a taxing 2013 campaign. Consecutive comeback wins over Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych were exactly what the Swiss needed entering the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year.

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“It’s nice beating Novak, but for me what stands out is winning a tournament and holding a trophy in my hands,” Federer added. “It was an added bonus to beat him on a hard court. He’s had a great last six months or so. This was a big win for me. So was beating Berdych. He’s been having a great season so far. It’s nice to win and beat so many Top 10 guys now in two months.”

A champion in 2004-06 and 2012, Federer will be looking to add to his 21 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. Only Rafael Nadal has won more (26) and while the Spaniard enters as the top seed and defending champion, Federer relishes the opportunity to battle his long-time rival and is ready for the challenges ahead. “(Winning) definitely helps with the confidence to play at a very good level. Now it’s important to get through this tournament in a good way physically. Mentally, I’m really motivated to be playing here in Indian Wells.”

Federer is the only player to complete the March sweep of Indian Wells and Miami twice (2005-06) and he expressed his drive and determination to “come close to doing something like that again.”

“These two (ATP World Tour) Masters 1000 are important to me,” Federer said. “I had amazing trips here, winning back-to-back. Those were really good times back then. I’m keeping up the hard work and we’ll see how things are going to go. The most important thing now is that I’m playing consistently well in practice and in matches.”

The No. 7 seed opens his campaign in the Coachella Valley with qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu after the Frenchman ousted fellow qualifier Robby Ginepri 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Federer and Mathieu first met 11 years ago, in Rome in 2003. The Basel native owns a 6-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage.

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