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Federer says he is still on the pace

Roger Federer dismissed suggestions he was slipping off the pace at the top of men’s tennis after his five-set loss to Andy Murray in the Australian Open semifinals on Friday.
 
Federer, at 31 the senior member of the ‘Big Four’, went down in a four-hour duel with third seed Murray as he suffered his third straight semifinal defeat in Melbourne.

But the world number two, who holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, insisted ‘nothing has changed’ in his match-ups against his younger rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Murray.

‘Well, nothing has changed. I’ve played these guys, what, 60 times, the three guys around me in the rankings,’ Federer said.

‘So we know each other really well. We play each other very close very often. Keep on trading wins and losses.’

Federer said Djokovic, bidding for his fourth Australian title against Murray in Sunday’s final, has taken a step forward but he said he was excited about his prospects for the year ahead.

‘Novak has done probably the best job getting more wins than losses. That’s why he’s ranked where he is,’ he said. ‘I enjoy the matches with Rafa (Nadal), Novak and also Andy again tonight. It’s nice playing five sets against him. It was tough tennis. I enjoy that.

‘So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at.

‘I also know that I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.’
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