Tennis: Federer says he can be unbeatable again in 2010
DOHA, Qatar — Roger Federer expects to carry his momentum from 2009 into the New Year now that the back injury that bothered him last season has fully healed.
The Swiss star lost to Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic early last year before recovering to win his first French Open title and then Wimbledon for his 15th Grand Slam tournament title to surpass Pete Sampras' record.
"Last year, I had a problem at the start of the season with my back," Federer said on Sunday ahead of the start of the Qatar Open on Monday. "I lost to Murray, Djokovic and Rafa, who got the better of me at the start of the season. But I feel fine now because I have been practicing enough to feel confident of winning."
Federer lost to Murray in Doha and Nadal in the Australian Open final, before pulling out from a Davis Cup series against the United States in February with an injury. Djokovic beat Federer in the Miami semifinals in March.
Federer's Roland Garros victory gave him a career Grand Slam, while the Wimbledon win helped him take the No. 1 ranking from Nadal. He then reached the U.S. Open final, only to lose to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, but ended the season with four titles.
"I got better and better as the season went on," Federer said. "I was able to bounce back and was on a roll. (Winning in) Paris and Wimbledon showed that I was unbeatable. I can do it again. That's a good feeling to have, that I can do it again."
Federer, a two-time champion in Qatar, will meet Christophe Rochus of Belgium in his first match. He is drawn to play sixth-ranked Nikolay Davdyenko in the quarterfinals. The Russian won the season-ending London World Tour Finals in November.
"It is hard to be competing against the best, but I know I can win more tournaments this year," said Federer, who finished third Saturday in the season-opening Capitala exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
"I have been practicing good. The end season was short, so I feel my game is where it is supposed to be," he said. "I know I can make a few adjustments to my game and play well again."
Nadal, who leads 13-7 Federer in their matches, won the Abu Dhabi final by ending a two-match losing run to Robin Soderling. The Swede beat Nadal at the 2009 French Open, where the Spaniard had been unbeaten since 2005.
"I got three matches in Abu Dhabi. I felt good on court. I was moving well on the court," Nadal said.