After Murray announcement, Federer aware of his own injury issues.

As he prepares to start his bid for a third straight Australian Open title, Roger Federer is keeping fitness as his top priority heading into the first Grand Slam of 2019.

With former rival Andy Murray, aged 31, now preparing to pack in his own career this summer if he can hold out against continual hip pain until Wimbledon, Federer is watchful of his own body”s signals.

During his pre-event media appearance, the 37-year-old whose career has been only occasionally interrupted by injury – back pain and notably a knee problems which required surgery – said he is going through his buildup in the usual methodical way.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been very lucky that in the off-seasons I never had any setbacks or any real setbacks that took me away from the court,” the 20 time Grand Slam winner who is seeking his 100th career trophy said.

Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“The off-season was great for me. Maybe that showed a little bit at the Hopman Cup (which he and Belinda Bencic won for Switzerland for a second straight year)

“I’m playing tomorrow. We’ll see how it’s going to be here in Melbourne.”

Federer is seeking his seventh Melbourne title with a first-round match against  Denis Istomin, in a repeat of an opening match here from 2006.

“I don’t want to over-analyse how I played in the off-season, how I played at the Hopman Cup,” he said.

“The focus really is on those early rounds – it has to be.”

“I’ve had some tough ones against him in the past – dropping two sets in their six-match series. He can play well in fast courts.

“But I’m playing good tennis, I’m confident it will take a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me.

“But the margins are so slim nowadays that I’m just not thinking too far ahead,  that would be a mistake.

“I hope I can put myself in contention as the tournament goes deeper, but we’ll see.”

Federer held out the hope that injured Murray can hold out until Wimbledon and fulfil his wish to end his career at his home major.

Murray is preparing to play in pain at the Australian Open, with chances for the former No 1 and double Wimbledon winner looking slim as he battles the agony of a hip which apparently has not responded well to surgery a year ago.

Federer, whose effortless, fluid style has placed little strain on his frame over an iconic career approaching two decades, can only look on with sympathy as Murray struggles.

Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

The tearful Scot said here that he just hopes to be able to play on and retire in July at Wimbledon.

“His body took the decision, unfortunately,” Federer said as he prepared to make a run at a third consecutive Melbourne trophy.

“It must have been a very long couple of years for him now. I remember when I played with him in Glasgow (exhibition, November, 2017).”

“I know how not well he was, I couldn’t believe he actually played. But he felt like he could do sort of the two and a half sets that we played.

“At some point when you feel like you’re never going to get back to 100 per cent, you’ve had the success that Andy has had, you can only understand the decision (to retire).”

The record 20-time Grand Slam winner added: “I was disappointed and sad, a little bit shocked, to know now that we’re going to lose him at some point – but we’re going to lose everybody at some point.

“It’s just now that it’s definite.

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre Flushing Meadows, New York 03/09/2018
John Millman (AUS) takes first set off Roger Federer (SUI) in fourth round match
Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“I hope that he can play a good Australian Open and keep playing beyond that, really finish the way he wants to at Wimbledon.”

Federer laid praise on the 31-year-old Scot: “It hits us top guys hard because we know Andy very well. We like him.

“He doesn’t have many enemies, to be quite honest. He’s a good guy, Hall of Famer, legend. He won everything he wanted to win. Anybody would substitute their career with his. He’s a great guy.

“It’s a tough one, but one down the road he can look back on and be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved.”


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