As a long year of tennis nears its end, Roger Federer insists he isn’t thinking about the opportunity of winning his 100th career title after he progressed to the semi-finals of the ATP Finals in London.
The six-time champion at the season-ending event impressed with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson to top Group Lleyton Hewitt and earn a measure of revenge for his five-set defeat against the South African at Wimbledon.
But several leading players, including world No 1 Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, have spoken about burnout, with the German describing the length of the season as “ridiculous”.
Federer says the decision over scheduling comes down to a decision between the player and the backroom team.
“You can get rid of 20 tournaments. I don’t know who wants that. Not those 20 tournaments. Not the 200 or thousand players on tour. That’s one option,” Federer said.
“The other option is as a team, player and team, to decide which are your priorities and how much can a body take, how much can a mind take, how much travel someone can endure.
“The good thing is we as players are not employed by a club. I can walk right now out of the door and go onto vacation if I want to. Nobody is going to stop me. They won’t like it, but I can. That’s a massive privilege, I believe, that a tennis player has.”
Staring down the century of victories, Federer has sought to play down expectation of reaching the landmark in a city where he has enjoyed particular success, but is now two wins away from moving within nine titles of Jimmy Connors’ record.
“Personally I’m still not thinking of the number 100. I won’t let that get in my head,” he said. “[It will] make me go crazy because it should be something I’m excited about and not something I should feel extra pressure.
“As long as I think Novak [Djokovic], is in the draw anyhow, he’s playing so good again, it’s never going to be easy.
“My next opponent, I don’t know who it’s going to be, I think it could even be Novak but I doubt it’s going to be. I think it’s just going to be hard to finish it.
“I’m happy I gave myself the opportunity. I’m happy that I’m raising my level of play throughout this week. This is what I hope to do.
“It’s exciting to be in this situation now, of course, no doubt.”
Federer began his campaign with a disappointing defeat against Kei Nishikori, but due to the round-robin format has recovered with back-to-back wins to progress to his 15th semi-final in 16 appearances.
“Regardless of the numbers, this is a massive tournament for the players. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve loved being part of the Tennis Masters Cup at the time [and] today ATP Finals,” Federer added.
“I’ve always tried to pace myself in a way, set up my schedule in a way that I would have something left in the tank, I would peak at this event.”
“I’m happy that this is another week like this. Didn’t look like it maybe 72 hours ago. But I was able to come back and play good tennis.”
This story first appeared on Sky Sports and was republished with permission.