Federer looks to Brisbane as 2016 launch-pad

Monday, 4 January 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


AFP: Roger Federer said Saturday he was looking at defending his Brisbane International title as a launch-pad to the new season.

The 17-time Swiss grand slam champion arrived in Australia Saturday with Sunday’s Brisbane International tournament as his lead-up to this month’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

Federer, 34, who won six titles including Brisbane last year and reached the final of both Wimbledon and the US Open, is up against world No.8 Kei Nishikori, No.14 Milos Raonic and No.28 Grigor Dimitrov in this year’s Brisbane tournament.

“The likes of Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov want to move now finally into the top four or five and for us, the top guys, it’s about hanging on where we are right now,” Federer told reporters.

“I’ve been playing really well for over one and a half years - ever since I came back from my back problems in 2013.

“That’s been very encouraging and now I’m just more confident than I was maybe a year ago as well.”

Federer won the last of his 17 grand slam crowns at Wimbledon in 2012 and he still believes he has another major title within him.

Novak Djokovic dominated last year with three grand slam titles, and while the wait for an 18th slam title is stretching out, Federer said he was not voverly concerned.

“I’ve come so close, I’ve played very well, but I don’t feel any frustration because of it,” he said.

“I’m still happy with how I’m playing. It was Novak’s year, he played so well there’s only so much (you can do) if somebody’s so dominant and he’s got sky-high confidence.

“It’s unfortunate, a pity for me, but at the same time I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’ve won so much throughout my career, I feel like if I keep pushing forward it might happen.

“If not, it’s okay.”

It is Federer’s third trip to the Brisbane International and not only did he win last year’s title but he joined rare company by picking up the 1000th match win of his ATP career in the process.

Federer has a bye into the second round this year where he is due to face either Australian wildcard Ben Mitchell or a qualifier.

Auckland draw kind for Venus Williams

article-1197122-0592C5A0000005DC-765_468x383AFP: Former world number one Venus Williams begins fine-tuning for the Australian Open against a player barely half her age when the WTA Auckland Classic begins on Monday.

Williams, the defending Auckland champion, found herself on the right side of the draw released on Saturday with a first-round match against 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina. 

The other former world number ones in the tournament, Ana Ivanovic from Serbia and Dane Caroline Wozniacki, are both in the bottom half of the draw. 

Wozniacki, who lost to Williams in the final last year, will play big-hitting American Sloane Stephens in the first round with Ivanovic’s opponent to be drawn from this weekend’s qualifying tournament. 

Williams, who arrived in Auckland on the comeback trail last year and ranked 47th in the world, has since regained a place in the top 10 for the first time since 2011 and returns at number seven in the rankings.

She turned professional in 1994, three years before the 75th-ranked Kasatkina was born. 

Ivanovic is another former Auckland champion, winning in her only previous appearance here in 2014, while Williams beat Wozniacki in the 2015 final 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

If the players progress according to seedings, Wozniacki will meet Ivanovic in the semi-finals where Williams should face fourth-seed Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.