Federer unfazed by critics

AFP, Wednesday 23 Mar 2011

Roger Federer can only shrug off suggestions that he is on an irreversible downward spiral as he enters the start of the Miami ATP Masters with only one title and three defeats this season to Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer

The record-setting 16-time Grand Slam champion was at his ease Wednesday after several practice sessions at the Crandon Park venue where he will be the third seed behind Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.

Serbia's Djokovic has seized the world No. 2 ranking and is riding an 18-0 hot streak this season.
Federer's only three defeats this year have come at the hands of Djokovic, at the Australian Open, Dubai and last week at Indian Wells.

"It depends on who says that," the Swiss said of pundits predicting his demise as a dominant power.

"I don't know if it's 5 percent saying it, 95 percent saying it. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter too much to me if someone is saying that or not. I still think I've had a great six months.

"I feel like I'm playing really good tennis, and right now Novak is just a bit better than the rest. And that's OK," added Federer, who will face either Czech Radek Stepanek or Italy's Fabio Fognini when he makes his second-round start this weekend.

With his half-decade of total domination of the sport where he set record upon record, the 29-year-old Swiss is well-aware of what a roller-coaster staying at the top can be.

"I've gone through phases like this on multiple occasions with Rafa (Nadal), with (Andy) Murray, with even (Andre) Agassi and (Lleyton) Hewitt and (Andy) Roddick and so forth. It's just something that's part of the game.

"I never expected myself to dominate for 15 years, it always goes in phases. This is a good one," Federer said.

"I think at the top right now, actually everybody is playing well, but then you hear stories being made up. They are also part of our sport. And it's fine, whatever it is, as long as I don't get affected by them. That's what counts."

Federer, who fell in the semi-finals at Indian Wells last weekend to Djokovic, said he's well into his preparation for Miami, where he won titles in 2005 and 2006 after losing the title match nine years ago to Agassi.

"It's a bit more humid here," he said of the Florida weather after playing in the Californian desert. "I've played a lot of tennis, so maybe just I'm a touch tired, but I'm happy I still have a few more days. So there's no issue there.

"I practised yesterday and today here and I feel fine. There's not much to say really yet.

Conditions are obviously slightly different, adjusting string tensions, just understanding how far the ball flies, how it bounces, and all those things.

"That's why I just need a couple more practice sessions and I'll be OK."

With all seeds on the men's and women's side of the dual event given first-round byes, Wednesday's play was dominated by lesser names.

One former top five player did make an early exit, with South African Kevin Anderson ousting Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-3.

Spain's Pablo Andujar beat the only Australian man in the field with his defeat of Bernard Tomic 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

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