Fun-loving Roger Federer having a ball at 36
Fun-loving Roger Federer having a ball at 36
The 36-year-old Swiss, who is gunning for a 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, admitted Sunday he was enjoying it as much as ever, if not more.
This is despite saying the lead-up to the opening major of the year had been “intense” with feverish interest from sponsors and media in one of the world’s most marketable athletes.
On top of this, he said the off-season for him was now tougher than playing tournaments so he can get his body in good enough shape to stay at the level needed to be one of the top players in the world.
But he wouldn’t have it any other way as he enters the final years of a glittering career.
“I’ve always enjoyed it, you know. Do I enjoy it more now? It’s unfair if I say yes, because I felt like I loved the time when I was coming up and playing my heroes from TV,” he said.
“I mean, that was extremely cool. It was like a little boy in the candy store back in the day.
“When I was number one in the world, winning all these tournaments, that was a lot of fun, too. That was OK.”
He seems to be getting more out of it now than ever before, traveling with four children — two sets of twins — in tow and conscious perhaps that it will not go on forever.
“Now it’s different,” he admitted on the eve of his 72nd Grand Slam. “Now I have a big family. I have a lot of friends that travel the world with me.
“I get to see familiar faces again at all these events because I’ve made so many friends over the course of my career. I’m so happy to come back to Melbourne, see all my friends that live here in Melbourne.
“It just seems that it’s nice that it’s never actually gone away, the fun aspect of actually enjoying the travel, coming back to Australia.
“Yeah, it’s great times in my life and in my career that we can make it all work, that I can still play tennis. My wife (Mirka) is incredibly supportive.”
He added: “It’s definitely great times. Is it the best ever? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely a lot of fun right now.”
Arsenal, Chelsea win in Europa League as Rangers hold Villarreal
- I think we played well in the first half and in the beginning of the second as well: Aubameyang
- Chelsea made a winning start to their Group L campaign as Willian's seventh-minute effort was enough to see off PAOK
PARIS: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice as Arsenal defeated Ukraine's Vorskla Poltava 4-2 in the Europa League on Thursday, while in-form Chelsea began their campaign with a 1-0 win away to PAOK in Greece.
Aubameyang has struggled to hit top gear in the Premier League so far with just one goal in five starts, but the Gabon striker opened the scoring in London after 32 minutes of the Group E encounter.
Danny Welbeck nodded in a second just after half-time and Aubameyang curled in the Gunners' third, with Mesut Ozil also on target before a lapse in concentration saw Vorskla hit back with two late goals.
"I think we played well in the first half and in the beginning of the second as well," Aubameyang told BT Sport.
"We have to improve and try to fight not to concede a goal like we did in the last minute."
Premier League leaders Chelsea made a winning start to their Group L campaign as Willian's seventh-minute effort was enough to see off PAOK at a hostile Toumba Stadium.
Eden Hazard was omitted from the Chelsea squad at his own request due to fatigue, but manager Maurizio Sarri fielded a strong side as the Blues extended their winning run to six games in all competitions.
"We were in control of the match for 90 minutes. We had a lot of opportunities. We missed them and so I'm very happy with the three points, very happy with the performance, but not very happy with the result," said Sarri.
"When it's time to kill the match, we have to kill the match."
Steven Gerrard's Rangers acquitted themselves well on their first appearance in the group stage of a European competition since the 2010-11 Champions League, as they came away with a 2-2 draw against Villarreal.
A disastrous start for the Glasgow side saw Carlos Bacca fire Villarreal ahead inside 60 seconds, but Scott Arfield turned home a cross from Daniel Candeias to level on 67 minutes.
Gerard Moreno put the hosts back in front almost immediately, only for Kyle Lafferty to again hit back for Rangers as Gerrard's men made a solid start in Group G.
Leigh Griffiths hit a late winner for Celtic in a 1-0 home victory over Rosenborg, a team Brendan Rodgers' side knocked out in this season's Champions League qualifying rounds.
Salzburg triumphed in the clash of Red Bulls in the other Group B fixture as Fredrik Gulbrandsen scored a minute from time to give the Austrian club a 3-2 victory over RB Leipzig.
Marseille, last season's runners-up, slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in Group H as Luka Jovic grabbed an 89th-minute winner for the reigning German Cup champions.
Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring early for Marseille, who were playing behind closed doors at the Stade Velodrome after numerous crowd incidents last season.
But Lucas Torro levelled on 52 minutes for Eintracht before Jovic's late strike won it.
Dudelange, the first Luxembourg team to play in the Europa League group stage, made seven-time European champions AC Milan work hard for a 1-0 win in Group F.
Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa were in the crowd as Dudelange, who have a dozen non-professional players in their squad, succumbed to a deflected second-half goal by Gonzalo Higuain.
Record five-time winners Sevilla launched their Group J campaign with a 5-1 rout of Standard Liege, as Ever Banega and Wissam Ben Yedder both netted twice for the Spaniards.