Indian Wells, United States – A reinvigorated Roger Federer isn't ready to concede a new world order in men's tennis just yet.
The Swiss great, owner of 17 Grand Slam titles, is slated to jump from eighth to fifth in the world on the strength of reaching the semi-finals of the Indian Wells ATP Masters.
Interest at the Masters has focused on a spate of victories for modestly ranked players over long-dominant figures including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Federer.
“They have to prove it,” Federer said of young players like Alexandr Dolgopolov and Milos Raonic, who spoke this week of feeling inspired by Stanislas Wawrinka's Australian Open triumph.
Wawrinka beat an injured Nadal in the Melbourne final to become the first player not in the game's “big four” of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer to win a Grand Slam title since Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open.
Dolgopolov, who stunned defending champion Nadal in the fourth round here, said there was a feeling in the locker room now that the established stars, who seemed invincible on the sport's biggest stages for so long, are beatable.
But Federer isn't expecting a new wave of ATP talent to sweep away the established order.
“One tournament doesn't do it all for me yet,” Federer said.
“It's nice they believe more in it, and it's nice that they take Stan as an inspiration. That's great. That's what it's supposed to be.”
However, he added: “We will see who's going to end up winning the tournament at the end. Because that's where the points are, that's where the prestige is.”
Federer endured a disappointing 2013 campaign by his own high standards, battling nagging back pain and winning just one title.
He says he's pain-free now, and captured his first title in nine months in Dubai in February.
“When I do feel good, this is what I expect from myself,” he said.
“It's nice proving it to myself and the team and my fans that they can still count on me.” – Sapa-AFP