King Roger has his eyes fixed on another crown

THE KING is not ready to relinquish his crown, with the reign of Roger Federer now stretching back to his Wimbledon victory in 2003.

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n Roger Federer was in happy mood after his victory against Janko Tipsarevic in London
n Roger Federer was in happy mood after his victory against Janko Tipsarevic in London

He has won 17 Grand Slams and added six titles at the end-of-season tour finals but, having just lost the world No.1 crown to Novak Djokovic, he is determined to hold on to the Barclays ATP World Tour title he lifted here in London last year.

The 31-year-old Swiss player's history in the tournament can be traced back to his debut in 2002, when he faced Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andre Agassi and Jiri Novak in his group stage.

Federer, now lauded as the greatest player of all time, remembers it all. "It was a big moment for me. I was extremely excited," he said.

Now Federer must emerge from a group including Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Martin del Potro and David Ferrer to challenge for the title again.

The spotlight in London has fallen on Andy Murray, the US Open champion, and Djokovic, the Australian Open winner, who are seen as the biggest ticket in town. But Federer is not ready to leave centre stage.

He believes the support from the tennis public keeps him focused on achieving more in the greatest career of all time.

"Ever since I won Wimbledon in 2003, I have been very, very honoured and proud to be so well-liked by so many fans, not just in one particular place or one particular country.

"For me that is a big thrill and it is probably one of the reason I am playing today.

"They inspire and motivate me to show up every day in practice, in the match courts, and give my best because I feel I have a big support and I feel I need to reward them."

His easy defeat of Tipsarevic in the opening match in the group means Federer has racked up 40 victories in the end-of- season finale that is the tour finals. The tournament has gone from Shanghai to Houston to London while Federer has been a top-ranked competitor.

He has consistently been a threat, winning in 2011, 2010, 2007, 2006, 2004 and 2003.

Can he now exert his authority to rule again in London?

His victory over Tipsarevic suggests that there is another championship in Federer, who pulled out of the Paris Masters last week to prepare fully for the tour finals.

"It's nice conditions here," said Federer, who was lauded by Murray as the "best indoor player" over the past two years.

"I've come here knowing I have played so well in this tournament in past years. I expect myself to be at a solid level. I have had a good year," he said.

This included winning a seventh Wimbledon title, defeating Murray in the final.

"The preparation has been good," he said of the defence of the title. "I feel like I'm striking the ball. I hope it's a sign of more to come."

This was a reflection of the confidence of a player who has done it all before and expects to do all again.

The most accomplished player of his generation, perhaps any generation was asked, jokingly, if there was anything he could not do. "I can't cook," he said with a smile. "There's many things I can't do that I wish I could do. I can't skate. I would love to do that.

"There's still many things for me to look forward to hopefully one day that I can either improve or learn from scratch, yeah. So, yeah, I'm far from perfect."

He still, though, does a fair impersonation of perfection with a racket. He is a king with his court.

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