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iol spt june12 Federer

Reuters

Five-time champion Roger Federer will finally take perfect fitness into a match as the Swiss starts his grass-court season at the Gerry Weber Open.

Halle, Germany – Five-time champion Roger Federer will finally take perfect fitness into a match as the Swiss starts his grass-court season at the Gerry Weber Open.

The number three, who will seek his first title on the German grass since 2008, said that the until-now undisclosed hip injury which bothered him for a month at the height of the clay campaign is now cured.

That could be perfect timing with the most intense part of the 2012 summer coming up fast, featuring Wimbledon and the London Olympics which will also be contested at the All England Club in early August.

“I'm not too worried about this summer of tennis. In fact, I have not felt so fresh and relaxed in a long time. I'm right where I want to be,” said the record 16-time Grand Slam champion.

“I'm worry-free, this could not come at a better time ahead of this really challenging schedule. It really is a good feeling because if you have an injury like that, then you carry it around with you constantly.

“It's like when there is fog on the horizon and you just hope that it will eventually disappear.”

The calm Swiss lost a French Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic on Friday and then travelled directly to Halle.

Federer said that the record seventh French Open title won by rival Rafael Nadal in Monday's conclusion to a rain-hit final in Paris just shows the intense quality at the top of the game.

“We have the great fortune that so many top players are playing well at the same time. This means there are always these top duels, these fantastic matches, and that deserves respect,” Federer said.

As for Nadal now holding 11 titles at the majors to the 16 of the Swiss, Federer he's not worried by that either as he concentrates on his own form and grass game. Nadal will also be playing Halle and is also due a Thursday start in the second round after a bye.

“I don't worry day and night that Rafa could catch up with me. He played a great tournament in Paris and proved that he is the dominating figure on clay.

“He was born to play on clay and be successful on it. But as far as this Grand Slam record is concerned, I'm sure even he is not thinking about that right now,” Federer said.

The Swiss, who is in his comfort zone in Halle, is looking forward to playing the event with Nadal involved.

“It's a great achievement to get Rafa and me to take part here, it's a coup. But this will not be just the big Rafa and Roger show,” he said of a tournament which also features number seven Tomas Berdych and Canadian Milos Raonic in the field.

Federer called his near-annual visits to Halle “like a working holiday.”

“I can get over the strains of Paris here and then attack again. It's certainly different to Paris, where you are among 400, 500

different players and here you are with maybe 50,” he said.

“It is a totally different atmosphere - an intimate one, particularly when the final rounds are still quite relaxing.”

Federer spoke as a main street leading to the grass stadium with its moveable roof was dedicated in his honour. The Roger-Federer-Allee will stand as a permanent memorial to the champion.

“This is a great honour for me. That road will always be a link between me and the Gerry Weber Open,” Federer said. – Sapa-dpa


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