• ATP World Tour Finals

Federer not ready to take a back seat

ESPN staff
November 5, 2012
Roger Federer still has a steely determination to succeed © Getty Images

Roger Federer has admitted that he is spurred on by talk that the developing rivalry between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic is set to put him in the shade.

Federer powered back to the top of the world tree this year, but Murray claimed a stunning win over Djokovic at the US Open for his first grand slam success and many respected figures in the game have suggested the pair will now dominate the sport in the way Federer and the currently injured Rafael Nadal had done for the previous seven years.

With Nadal struggling to shake off a knee problem that has sidelined him since June, many feel the balance of power has shifted to world No. 1 Djokovic and Murray. It is not a stance that angers Federer, but it is one that provides him with motivation.

Speaking to the Times, Federer said: "Does that suggestion motivate me? I guess. Does it annoy me? No.

"It is great for the sport to have a lot of champions out there playing the game and it is natural that they would get more of the limelight for what they've achieved in recent months.

"I always knew that Novak and Andy would stay around at the top of the game for a long time and this [at the age of 25] is the time when they should be playing their best tennis."

Federer arrives at the O2 for the ATP World Tour Finals having taken a week off. His absence from the Paris Masters, on account of having "things that needed to heal", surrendered the world No. 1 spot back to Djokovic. The Swiss is happy with his season and is unlikely to overhaul his schedule next year.

He said: "I'm happy that I got back to No. 1 and this is also a time when you need to win a slam to justify yourself, and I did that at Wimbledon. This is still a full-on process, it takes a lot of sacrifices and I will do all that I can for the time being.

"I can't see there being any extraordinary changes next year. It will obviously depend on how well I play at the big tournaments. Generally over the years I've managed my schedule pretty well and I've never regarded this just as the back end of the season, it is more like a priority for me. It is how you look at it.

"Rather than driving for the finishing line, I want to finish the year in some style and this year, the groups are loaded with great players on both sides, so I know I'll need to be at my best. You can feel the importance of this event among all the players."

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