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Federer: 'Confidence Was Going Away Quickly'

New York, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty Images

Roger Federer is having fun with his new status as one of the hot favourites for the 2014 US Open. In his pre-tournament press conference, Federer was asked whether playing night sessions early in the tournament may work against him come the day semi-finals and late afternoon final. “I hope I have that problem. It's perfect that we're talking semis and finals already. It wasn't like that last year.”

Indeed it wasn’t. Federer lost in the fourth round to Tommy Robredo, marking his earliest exit at Flushing Meadows since 2003 and his first defeat in 11 career meetings with the Spaniard.

Fast forward 12 months and Federer finds himself in contention to challenge for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking and with 12 Top 10 scalps this season. At this point in 2013 Federer had just one Top 10 win for the year and it was unclear whether he would even qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. But after reaching back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 finals in Toronto and then Cincinnati, where he won his third title of the year and sixth overall at the Western & Southern Open, Federer says that he feels much more confident about his chances at the US Open this year.

“I think last year I was trying to convince myself I did have an opportunity [to win the title]… but I felt I needed a little help and for the draw to open up because it was going to be hard for me beating Top 5 or Top 10 players [and] I felt like I had little margin against guys ranked just outside of the Top 10 to No. 30… The rest of the field I felt like I could manage it somehow, but the confidence was going away quickly because I was just not moving so well. I was scared to have another setback, and so it was just not as clear-cut and simple as it is this year. 

“This year I played a lot of good matches. Not just Toronto and Cincinnati, but really from the first week on I have always played really nice tennis. Then you come into this US Open remembering how it feels to win tournaments. You remember and you get used to that. You almost forget how to lose to a point and confidence rises. You're back to winning ways again and everything seems so simple… I feel like I can play a great tournament.”

Federer opens against Australian Marinko Matosevic and in that match he will chase his 50th win of the season. (versus just 45 for all of last year). 

“I think I have only played him once in Brisbane this year, and I played him very well on a similar court,” Federer said of the Australian. “He's had some better wins now. This year he's really moved up the rankings. Clearly I'm aware that he can play some dangerous tennis, but at the same time, I feel like it's on my racquet. I have to make sure he has to work extremely hard and he knows the finish line is really far away.”

Federer won five consecutive US Open titles between 2004 and 2008 and was denied a sixth in 2009 by Juan Martin del Potro in five sets. He last reached the semi-finals in 2011, when Novak Djokovic rallied from two sets and two match points down to beat him.

Should Federer win the US Open, and Djokovic not progress beyond the semi-finals, the Swiss would move into first place in the Emirates ATP Race To London. The Race, which measures a player's performance in 2014 only, is different to the world rankings, officially known as the Emirates ATP Rankings, which counts players' best results over the past 52 weeks.

However, the Race and Rankings ultimately mirror each other at the end of the season. So should Federer rise to first place in the Race after Flushing Meadows, he would have a strong chance of finishing year-end World No. 1 for a sixth time after November's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

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