Tramlines

Ranking ‘secondary’ as Federer finds fitness, form and a magical new racquet

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Roger Federer would rather win titles than improve his ranking – and doubts he could get back to the top anyway.

World number eight Federer, who claimed a rejuvenating victory in Dubai last weekend, is undergoing another one of his mini-revivals, having beaten four top-10 players in the first quarter of 2014.

This run – which included the Dubai semi-final scalp of Novak Djokovic – is remarkable given the 32-year-old’s poor 2013 campaign, which only featured one tournament win in Halle, and a failure to beat a single top-four player.

Federer had seemed to be on an irreversible slide, even changing his racket and coach as he attempted to claw his way back into contention.

But, it transpired, the 17-times Grand Slam winning Swiss was suffering the effects of a back problem, and finally feels fit and healthy - as he told Eurosport's Tobias Laure in an exclusive interview.

“Rankings are secondary for me, unless it’s the number one – which I am so far away from that I just want to focus on trying to win titles.

“More than anything I am pleased that I feel better, physically. I think that I have just returned to my normal level in recent months.

“Before, it was difficult due to my back injury. It set me back a lot – even though I could continue to play through it, I could not play freely.

“Now it has got a lot better, and this is clear in my results.”

Federer’s Dubai win included a fantastic 3-6 6-3 6-2 comeback win against world number two Djokovic, who he had not beaten in their four previous meetings.

The Swiss acknowledges the win to have eclipsed his final victory over Tomas Berdych, particularly given the form Djokovic was in.

“Djokovic has played very well in recent months. At the Australian Open in January, he lost for the first time in 29 matches. So I knew that it would be very difficult.

“Here in Dubai, Novak has already won the title four times, so for me the semi was already kind of a mini-final.

“The audience reacted accordingly and gave both of us great support. It was a huge satisfaction for me.”

As for that new racquet? It's got a bigger head than Federer has ever used in his career - and as the Swiss genius he told the ATP Tour's website in a separate interview, the new gear is already working out better than he could have hoped after spending a few weeks getting used to it.

“I'm just happy that now it's clear, I don't have to think of it, and I can just play tennis,” Federer said.

"It's not in the back of my mind anymore, Is this racquet good or not?

"I was convinced in practice, but then you hope that the results are going to follow and they did.

“When you can play that way, you're more free, you have an open mind. That's when you are more successful. I'm very happy.

“I’m happy that the results are paying off, especially in quick succession. I have only just switched (racquets), and here I am, already getting to the finals in Brisbane, semis at the Australian Open, I won my Davis Cup match, and now here I am with a trophy.”

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