Roger Federer keen to get stuck into the Australian Open


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Roger Federer keen to get stuck into the Australian Open

The ‘Friendly Slam’ was arguably Federer’s best tournament of a miserable 2013 season. He eased through to the semi-finals before losing to Andy Murray in a dramatic five setter and a similar run this time round would surely count as a successful fortnight for the Swiss after failing to get past the last sixteen at either Wimbledon or the US Open.

All eyes will be on the new addition to Team Federer in Melbourne.

Stefan Edberg won the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987 and the six-time Grand Slam champion links up with Federer this week after agreeing to be his coach during the off season.

Edberg watched Federer’s match with Jeremy Chardy in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Saturday and the Swiss revealed that they will sit down to talk through tactics and perhaps make some minor tweaks before the action gets underway in Melbourne Park.

“I don't know what he's going to say about my matches in Brisbane,” Federer said.

“That's for me to find out and give him call and speak about it. I already had a good conversation with Severin [Luthi – the Swiss Davis Cup captain] about how we're going to go about things for the next week and what we need to work on.”

“Pretty pleased just that my body is holding up good after the first week [of the season], because you don't quite know what to expect.

I need to just readjust a couple of things maybe, and also get to Melbourne and see what the court speed is like down there.”

Federer refused to be drawn on what would be a good fortnight for him at the Australian Open.

He’s made it clear in the past that he still believes he’s capable of winning major titles and he certainly isn’t turning up to the slams just to be satisfied with reaching the latter stages of the second week.

“I haven't thought about it a whole lot,” he said.

“I think I can play very well. How I do depends on how I play more than anything right now. I thought I served better overall and more consistently in Brisbane than I have in a long time. So that's very good. As you move through the draw, hopefully you'll get more and more confidence.

But I'm not thinking too far ahead. I'm not thinking short‑term. I'm definitely going there to hopefully be in Melbourne for a long time and putting myself in a good position.”

The conditions down under may help him a little more this year than in the past.

The Australian Open has often been the second slowest of the majors, especially in the night sessions where the cool air tends to make things a bit heavier. However the rumours are that the courts are playing pretty quickly this year which will give Federer more of a chance.

He enjoyed the speed of the courts in Brisbane last week before surprisingly coming a-cropper against an inspired Lleyton Hewitt in three sets in the final.

Compared to most Federer-Hewitt clashes in the past, there were few rallies and he admitted afterwards that he’d been outslugged.

“I was making a lot of the shots early on, so also we didn't have the classical rallies we usually have against each other,” Federer said.

“He's definitely adjusted his game throughout his career as well. He's hitting the ball more flat. He doesn't allow you to come to the net as much anymore like he used to before back in the day. He used to almost make you come in and then pass you and frustrate you that way.

So he's changed that around a little bit because of the power game that exists in today's game.”

However Hewitt told the press that his old rival is definitely capable of winning a fifth Australian Open title this year and despite his current ranking of No.6, he believes that only Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are ahead of him in terms of the main contenders.

“I think in most of his other matches in Brisbane he looked pretty good,” Hewitt said.

“There was a small patch in his semi-final where Chardy was able to get on top for a little period.

But for the most part this week I would say Roger's serving was on, he's hitting his spots pretty well. That's important for him.

He's always going to be very tough to beat, especially in Melbourne over five sets as well. At the moment, it's really only those top three guys that are of ahead of him.”