Newspaper article International New York Times

Federer Still Looks for New Challenges ; after Long Career, Focus Is on Keeping Things Fresh and Not Repeating Success

Newspaper article International New York Times

Federer Still Looks for New Challenges ; after Long Career, Focus Is on Keeping Things Fresh and Not Repeating Success

Article excerpt

Roger Federer is approaching his 34th birthday and his twilight on the professional tennis tour by shaking up his itinerary, among other things.

With his 34th birthday approaching, Roger Federer is still chasing titles and big paydays like the exhibition he will play Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden. But he is also chasing novelty.

If he is fresh at an age when other champions have long gone stale, it is in part because he has made a concerted attempt to keep his approach fresh, even if not every interested party likes the consequences.

Davis Cup? Been there, finally won that. Sign him out.

India? Istanbul? Never played there. Sign him up.

"The thing is I've been traveling for 20 years now, right?" he said last week. "I've had the chance to go to visit so many places over the years that I feel like at the back end, you've got to catch the places you've never been to."

New York -- where he will face Grigor Dimitrov in the BNP Paribas Showdown on Tuesday -- hardly qualifies as a new destination. He has won five United States Opens in the city and knows its upscale sections well. He has navigated them most recently with his four children in tow, although they will remain in California this week as he makes the quick trip to New York before returning to play in Indian Wells, riding the momentum of beating Novak Djokovic in the Dubai final on Feb. 28.

That victory felt all the better to Federer after his surprise loss in the third round of the Australian Open to the Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.

"I was playing good, committed tennis again, which I wasn't able to do in Australia against Seppi, for some reason," said Federer, who served and attacked Djokovic effectively on the fast, outdoor hardcourt.

Tennis remains a family game, but Federer, the winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles and still No.2 in the rankings, is taking it to new levels on tour since the birth of his twins Leo and Lenny last year. His identical twin daughters, Charlene and Myla, will turn 6 in July.

"This trip was particularly brutal, because coming from Dubai was a 12-hour time change," Federer said. "So the first night was unbelievable. One of my daughters slept from 8 to 12 and then didn't sleep from midnight all the way through, and I was like, I can't believe it."

The traveling Federers manage it all with the help of several nannies. "We have a few just to make sure they don't overwork as well and that we have a good vibe," Federer said.

Clearly, the new experiences are not restricted to the tennis court at this stage of Federer's life, but the game itself remains a reliable source, even if a court remains a rectangle with a net, no matter what the time zone.

He played in India in December (for a seven-figure sum) as part of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League. …

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