CINCINNATI, August 18 – Roger Federer is settling in for the long haul on hardcourts, saying Tuesday that his final in Canada was almost the perfect start to perhaps the most physically demanding portion of a long year."Now that we’re on this kind of surface for eight months, I think this is a very important start for me, playing well on the hardcourts again," the world number two said before his first workout at the ATP Cincinnati Masters.
Defending Cincinnati champion Federer battled through tight three-set triumphs in last week’s ATP Toronto Masters quarter-finals and semi-finals before falling to British star Andy Murray in the final.
"That’s why I’m very happy with how I played in Toronto. I fought hard and was able to turn it around a bit and get those close matches going my way," Federer said.
Federer maintains his trademark icy calm demeanour with less than a fortnight before the August 30 start of the last Grand Slam of the season in New York.
He begins plays in the second round Wednesday at Cincinnati against Denis Istomin of Ukraine, who crushed fading American James Blake 6-3, 6-0.
"I expect it to be faster like the last few years," Federer said of the differences in the courts from one Masters event to another.
"I’ve done the switch from Montreal or Toronto to Cincinnati many, many times, so I know what to expect."
Federer said that completing the quick-change is key — it’s either feast or famine for him at the event where he owns trophies from 2005, 2007 and a year ago but also has three first-round defeats, the last of them six years ago.
"I’m obviously not perfectly prepared here for this event," Federer said. "I haven’t even played yet and I’m playing tomorrow night. That’s something I need to try to fix as quick as possible, get through that first round, and hopefully find my way into the tournament."
The Swiss said that nothing can be taken for granted with the level of competition continually rising.
"Players have nothing to lose against you. It’s hard to control sometimes," Federer said. "That’s how our game is being played, especially in best of three sets. Sometimes it’s a bit of a shootout.
"You can’t win them all. But I was very shocked and surprised at how dominant I was and how well I played for so many years.
"Still today I’m hanging with the top and I’ve got chances and already won a slam again this year. I have a chance to win a second one and maybe the World Championships at the end of the year.
"There’s still a lot to play for, but usually if you stay the same, you will move down. That’s never something I was content with."