Gearing up for a record-equalling 20th Australian Open, the 37-year-old Roger Federer is feeling fresher than ever.
“I’m happy I’m still on tour and feeling as good as I feel right now,” said the Swiss great, who travelled to the Western Australian capital from his Dubai training base on Boxing Day.
“I’ve had a good build up to the season. I’ve been here a couple of days and (I’m) feeling really good.”
It’s a mindset that’s helped by Federer’s return to one of his favourite cities, the superstar delighted to be at RAC Arena to defend the Mastercard Hopman Cup title that he and Belinda Bencic seized last year for Switzerland.
“It’s a wonderful arena and a place that’s given me some good feelings for the rest of the season and I love playing in Australia. People know that here,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’ve got great friends here in this country so I’m looking forward to a great week here in Perth again.”
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) December 28, 2018
The quest for a fourth title for his nation begins when Switzerland takes on Great Britain on Sunday evening, entailing Federer’s first meeting with Cameron Norrie.
While the 90th-ranked Norrie – who stunned highly-fancied Stefanos Tsitsipas in Great Britain’s opening session on Saturday – is a new opponent, the Hopman Cup itself is a familiar setting for Federer, who won the 2001 title with Martina Hingis on his debut appearance as a competitor.
“I was even a hitting partner, too, way back when before I even played for Ivo Heuberger … so I’ve come here actually six times and always had great partners in Martina Hingis, my wife Mirka and also Belinda the last three years and I’ve just really enjoyed myself here,” Federer reflected.
“I think it’s a great preparation for the rest of the season. I don’t know, it’s a great place to be here and I’m happy I’m here again.”
Federer’s Team Switzerland partner Belinda Bencic is equally delighted to return to the city that’s delivered such memorable experiences. The 21-year-old noted how the happy memories of claiming the 2018 title with Federer are enhanced by the many ways she has learned from him.
Asked if there was one piece of advice that stands out from Federer, the world No.54 pointed to the endless value of his experience.
“There’s not one piece, there’s many pieces,” Bencic reasoned. “For sure always these two weeks are great, you know, learning from the champion. I can take everything on the court and off the court and just learn a lot.”
Bencic’s third consecutive Hopman Cup campaign begins against Katie Boulter, another first-time match-up at RAC Arena.