INDIAN WELLS: Back to full fitness after suffering from a lung infection last month, Roger Federer said he is ready to challenge for a record fourth title at the Indian Wells ATP tournament.
The Swiss master has not competed since clinching his 16th grand slam singles crown at the Australian Open in late January but he has always felt extremely comfortable at the California desert venue.
“I enjoy coming back here,” Federer told reporters while preparing for his opening match at the imposing, state-of-the-art Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “That’s why I have not missed it in a very long time.
“I’ve also been very successful here. I like the surface and it can really play in my favor. I’ve had some amazing matches here … and I always feel very good walking out on center court.
“The dimensions are great and the crowd also adds to it,” said Federer, who posted a hat-trick of titles here from 2004. “So it would be very nice to win it for the fourth time.
“I was disappointed losing last year, losing in the semis, because I think I had a good enough game to win the tournament.”
Federer lost to Britain’s Andy Murray in last year’s semi-finals but he outclassed the same opponent 6-3 6-4 7-6 in the Australian Open final in January, the second time he has beaten the Scot in straight sets to win a grand slam.
“I hope I can continue some sort of good form from the way I was playing in Australia,” Federer, 28, said. “There was never a guarantee and I’ve had a long break now, but in practice I’ve been feeling okay.
“But I definitely need matches to really be able to judge my game.”
Federer withdrew from last month’s Dubai tennis championships because of the lung infection but he has fully recovered.
“A few days ago I think I definitely felt like, you know what? I’m back to my normal self,” the world number one said. “Yesterday I practiced for four hours, so this is when I knew: ‘Okay, no problem’.
“I’m ready to go, so now I can slow it down, enjoy tonight, and then hopefully start with a good match Sunday.”
Federer will launch his bid for a fourth title at Indian Wells against either Romania’s Victor Hanescu or Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round.