Fit Federer ready for another Open tilt

Melissa Woods
Roger Federer will go into the Australian Open as the No.3 seed

Roger Federer says he's ready for a crack at a record-equalling seventh Australian Open title despite his lack of recent tournament play.

While world No.1 Rafael Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic have been slogging it out in the ATP Cup, Federer has had a contrasting preparation by training at home in Switzerland.

The 38-year-old said he was satisfied with his fitness heading into the opening slam of the year despite not playing a match since November.

"I've trained long and hard in the off-season and I didn't have any setbacks, which is crucial," said Federer, who arrived in Melbourne on the weekend.

The 20-time major winner gave no hint that this could be his last Open, saying he was still "very excited" about playing.

He said he asked himself while packing if he was happy to go to Australia.

"I could easily just stay home but I was like, 'No, no, I'm really happy to go to Melbourne and kick off the season there'."

The big three - Federer, Djokovic and Nadal - will again start as the tournament favourites which the Swiss admitted surprised him.

"I'm aware that at 38 I shouldn't be the favourite, it should be someone probably in their 20s, but the three of us have been able to stay as the favourites which is great for us," he said.

Spain and Serbia squared off in the final of the ATP Cup, with Djokovic defeating Nadal in straight sets - as he did in last year's Australian Open final.

Federer said he'd been keeping a close eye on both rivals, with Djokovic gunning for a record-extending eighth Australian Open.

"Both guys are already showing great signs," Federer said.

"I was watching a little bit of their ATP Cup match and thought that was a great match.

"Both guys, injury free, are always tough to beat."

With 19 titles, Nadal is just one major win away from Federer's slam record but the Swiss insisted it wasn't a motivation for him.

"Not necessarily him; for me it's about trying to have the best career I can have," he said.

"At the time it was a big deal for me to equal and then break Pete's (Sampras) record but ever since it's been about trying to add what I can to the tally but I play because I love it.

"It's not about trying to fend off the others."

Federer won the title at Melbourne Park in 2017 and 2018 but was eliminated in the fourth round last year by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Federer named the young Greek sensation as a contender after Tsitsipas finished 2019 with success at the season-ending ATP Finals title, beating the Swiss maestro in the semis.

"Winning that was a big one for Tsitsipas and I'm sure that was a huge step forward after he also beat me here last year," Federer said.