• Dubai Tennis Championships

Federer: Nadal can eclipse my Grand Slam record

ESPN staff
February 23, 2014
Roger Federer was beaten by Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open © Getty Images

Roger Federer believes Rafael Nadal is capable of taking his record of most Grand Slam wins, but has revealed he still has the hunger and desire to add to his current tally.

Federer has won 17 majors throughout his illustrious career and overtook Pete Sampras' total of 14 in 2009.

And Nadal, who lifted the French and US Opens last year to move onto 13 Grand Slams, stands at four majors behind Federer, and at the age of 27 is tipped by many to surpass the current record.

"Could Rafa [Nadal] eclipse my [Grand Slam] record? Yeah, absolutely," Federer said on the eve of participating at the Dubai Tennis Championships, which begins on Monday.

"But the good thing is I am still playing and my goal is to add more titles to my count - and not just Grand Slam titles. I love any tennis tournament I play in and Dubai is an important tournament for me."

Federer is gunning for a sixth crown in Dubai, but is likely to face stiff competition from current champion Novak Djokovic, who is aiming to triumph for a fifth time.

The pair have won the tournament in nine of the past 11 years, and have been placed in the same half of the draw, meaning they could face each other in the semi-finals.

Federer, who reached the last four of the Australian Open after solid wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray, believes he is playing something close to his best after encountering a difficult 2013, where he won just one title and lost during the early rounds of events.

"I am playing top tennis. For me it's just a matter of staying healthy, staying consistent and getting to semis and finals. I feel as if I'm in as good a shape as I have been for a year, so that's very encouraging. I feel my best tennis is around the corner," Federer said.

Federer trained in Dubai during the off-season, and with childhood hero Stefan Edberg teaming up with the Swiss as his coach is pleased with the way his year has panned out so far, having battled with a back problem during the middle part of the campaign.

"I know I've said that a few times, but this time I really feel it's the case. I have zero pain and spent a very encouraging month in Dubai training in December. I am confident for the year ahead," he said.

Federer is also playing with a new, larger racquet frame, one that he briefly tested last year but quickly ditched after a string of poor results. And on the new equipment, he has been encouraged by the outcome.

"I've only been playing with the racquet for a few months now, but it feels much longer," he said. "The good thing is I am not thinking about it. It's been a good switch," he said.

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