Roger Federer thinks he still has the game and the motivation to get back to the top spot in men's tennis.
"I’m a believer that if I do things the right way it will come back. I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get back to it and break the record," the 16 time Grand Slam champion said ahead of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
"I feel like if I play really well from here till the US Open, obviously there’s a shot. But then there’s a shot for probably 10 players to do that. I feel like I’m on a good run right now. I’ve won a lot of tournaments in a short period of time, which obviously gives me a lot of confidence.
"But the focus right now is to try and play well day-by-day, make sure I get through a tough stretch here between Dubai and Miami. World No. 1 will probably be decided for the majority of players between the French Open and US Open period where there are so many highlights."
"I’ve been extremely close. I’m working hard, making all the right decisions and hopefully down the road I will pick up a few more. Did I miss some big opportunities? I think I put it more down to that than actually not playing as good [as previous years]; at times I think I was even playing better. I’ve had some tough losses over the last couple of years, which have denied me a few Slams I believe."
Federer plays Michael Llodra in the first round.
"I feel good. The week in between Rotterdam and Dubai was very helpful because I did play a lot of tennis already. I’ve physically recovered again, feel good about my game and I’m really excited about playing here in Dubai.
"It’s a tough draw and [Llodra is] playing well at the moment in Marseille, so he’ll be coming in with confidence, which is always a tough position. It’s such a strong tournament. It’s tough conditions here; it’s always pretty quick. I’ve struggled early on in the tournaments here in the past. I hope that this time around it’s going to be a good tournament for me.
"I’ve already won it four times, so you kind of draw out of that and hope you can do it again. Five [titles] would be amazing, but the competition is really tough."
Federer is in the bottom half of the draw, and might face Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are in the top half of the draw, and are slated to meet in the last four.
How to play from the baseline
The expression “to endure the rally” is about those indeterminate moments of a rally where none of the players is leading.
The ability to endure the rally is fundamental when you play a “long rally”, because it offers you the chance to measure your opponent’s strong points and vulnerabilities, besides letting you position as best as possible for your next offensive shot.