ROGER Federer has adjusted his sights for a 19th Grand Slam with the main focus on a record eighth Wimbledon. The tennis world was abuzz after the Swiss completed an extraordinary Australian Open final victory against Rafa Nadal.
IÈve got months to reflect now on everything. ItÈs great I have this schedule ahead of me, also the body needs a recovery now too.
The legendary John McEnroe had already described the arch-rivals as the two greatest tennis players of all time before their epic five-set showdown rolled back the years for the thirtysomething superstars.
And the pair did nothing to compel contradiction despite the fact they had only returned from long-term injuries at the start of the year; Federer because of a knee injury and Nadal a wrist problem.
Federer, normally cool, classy and composed in victory, jumped up and down in excitement like a schoolboy at the end after coming back from losing the fourth set, taking a medical time out and going a break down in the decider. He had become the first player to beat four top-ten seeds in securing a Slam in 35 years, three going to five sets. All at the age of 35. The past became the present as the triumph was hailed the greatest single major achievement by anyone by the best player in history.
But post-match Federer comments – when he told the crowd: I hope to see you next year, but if not, this was a wonderful run here and I canÈt be more happy to have won tonight. – were interpreted as hinting at retirement. Juan Martin Del Potro pleaded with the former world No.1 not to quit.
But the Swiss emerged from a celebration in which he partied like a rock star until the sun rose over Melbourne to reveal his intention is to carry on and try to win more majors.
Federer said to the Daily Mirror: Wimbledon over Roland Garros yes, then the US Open I donÈt know.
IÈve got months to reflect now on everything, ItÈs great I have this schedule ahead of me, also the body needs a recovery now too, just to see. IÈll probably take like a week at least off to see how I feel.
"Then from then on you can plan your next moves. My next tournaments is Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, and then I havenÈt planned the clay-court season yet but IÈll probably do that midway through Indian Wells or something.
Then on the grass IÈve got a lot of tournaments there, I play Stuttgart and Halle. So I guess Wimbledon, I know I have a better shot there.
"At the French Open, if you’re not in the draw you canÈt win it so I hope to be in the draw this year, not like last year.
"US Open actually I also think I have a good chance to do well there, but letÈs enjoy this one first.
And on returning to the Australian Open, which he has now won five times, while explaining his if not comment, he added to the worldÈs media: This is all about knowing that I have only so much tennis left in me. If I do get injured and miss next year. Who knows what happens?
You never know when your next Grand Slam is going to be, if ever. You never know if you’re going to have an opportunity at this stage, I felt I could thank so many people at once. It’s a live audience. It’s a moment for me to be appreciative of them.
I had a tough year last year. Three five-setters (winning the Open) are not going to help. I just meant it (the if not remark) the way I meant it. There wasn’t something planned behind it, that this is my last Australian Open. I hope can I come back, of course. That’s my hope right now.
Federer, father of two sets of twins, rolled back the years again as he threw some shapes dancing until dawn after the submission of his Spanish foe boosted his prize money earnings in his glittering career over $100m.
He said to the Mirror: We did party like rock stars. We started late, or super early in the morning, we made it home by sunrise, which was good, it was nice to see the sun rise over Melbourne, get into the room, so it was a long night but a lot of fun
"Everyone was in such a good mood, it was a special day, special couple of weeks and finished off in a great way, being silly and having a lot of fun.
"Forgetting about everything, all the pressure went away. Am I good dancer? I donÈt know. I think you should ask other people. I think IÈm a fun dancer.
Federer defended accusations of legal cheating by former Slam champion Pat Cash by taking the time out to slow the momentum that had swung NadalÈs way at the end of the fourth set.
He said: The rules are there that you can use them. I also think we shouldn’t be using these rules or abusing the system. I think I’ve led the way for 20 years. So I think to be critical there is exaggerating. I’m the last guy to call a medical timeout. So I don’t know what he’s talking about.
And he revealed how playing free in the final set was the key to his overcoming the 30-year-old Mallorcan.
Now he prepares for Dubai and the US hardcourt swing before bidding for Slams in Paris, London SW19 and New York. There is clearly no let-up for a player who defies the ageing process while cementing his place as the Greatest Of All Time.
Federer said: I think this one (the Australian Open) will take more time to sink in. When I go back to Switzerland, I’ll think, WowÈ.
The magnitude of this match is going to feel different. I can’t compare this one to any other one, except for maybe the French Open in ’09. I waited for the French Open, I tried, I fought. I tried again and failed. Eventually I made it. This feels similar.
Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career. I think he made me a better player. Him and a couple more players have done the most to do that to me because the way his game stacks up with me, it’s a tricky one. I’ve said that openly. It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against him. So it’s definitely very special.
I said that also before the finals: if I were to win against Rafa, it would be super-special and very sweet because I haven’t beaten him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now. Last time, I guess, was 2007 at Wimbledon in a five-setter. Now I was able to do it again.
We’re both on a comeback. Like I said on the court, it would have been nice for both of us to win, but there’s no draws in tennis. It’s brutal sometimes.
Nadal, who has won 14 Slams, said: In these kind of matches, anyone can win. Being honest, in these kind of matches, I won a lot of times against him. Today he beat me. Just congratulate him. Is not more than another important title for him, another important two weeks for me. Even if didn’t finish the way that I wanted, have been an important two weeks for me.
The only thing that I can do is congratulate him and go back home with very positive feelings for me.