ROME – Having finally won the French Open last year, Roger Federer is feeling far less pressure entering the clay-court season.
The top-ranked player is preparing to play both singles and doubles at the Rome Masters this week.
“Questions are already very different. It doesn’t start off with, ‘Oh, are you going to win the French Open this year?’ So it’s just a bit more relaxing,” Federer said at the Foro Italico on Sunday.
“I also got a lot of confidence from winning the French Open last year. You feel like if you can do it once you can do it twice.”
Still, Federer rated rival Rafael Nadal as the top player on clay after the Spaniard’s dominant performance at last week’s Monte Carlo Masters, which Federer skipped.
“He’s been on an absolute tear for the last five years. He’s hardly lost any matches – you can almost count those on one hand – and he’s only lost one match at the French Open, so I would think he’s still the favorite,” Federer said.
“I would love to say I’m the big favorite but I don’t think it’s quite right, even though I won the French Open last year. He’s just proven again in Monaco how tough he is.”
Federer said he is feeling refreshed after a month off, having taken a vacation and then prepared for the clay season with 10 days of intense workouts.
“Practice is (the) key during this stage getting ready for clay and the long stretch from Rome on to Wimbledon,” he said. “It’s a long one and I need to be fresh at the back end as well at Wimbledon, when it comes to hopefully playing another final.”