Federer eyes number one spot at Australian Open
After an exceptional 2003 season, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer is looking to extend his winning streak and become world number one at the Australian Open.
The first grand slam tournament of the year began in Melbourne on Monday, with five Swiss players in the draw.
With 78 wins out of 95 matches played, seven major titles - including Wimbledon and the Masters Cup - and a final ranking of second in the world, Federer’s 2003 season can best be described as sensational.
In 12 months, the player from Basel went from young pretender to one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Federer has his sights set on more victories in 2004, with his main priorities the Davis Cup, the Olympic Games and the four Grand Slam tournaments.
With a favourable draw, he stands a good chance of knocking the current world number one, Andy Roddick of the United States, off the top spot by the end of the Melbourne tournament.
But to succeed, Federer has to overcome a run of bad luck at the Australian Open.
Germany’s Tommy Haas and Argentina's David Nalbandian have both knocked him out in the second round in the past two years.
Federer’s lack of success in Melbourne continued last September when he was beaten by Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup.
The Swiss star stands a good chance of facing his nemesis again at this year's Open.
Four more Swiss
Federer is only Swiss male player to have made it through the tournament's qualifying rounds.
Michel Kratochvil, Stanlislas Wawrinka, Stéphane Bohli, Ivo Heuberger and George Bastl, were all eliminated.
However, four female players made it through: Patty Schneider, Myriam Casanova, Marie-Gaïné Mikaelian and Emmanuelle Gagliardi.
swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux (translation: Joanne Shields)
The Australian Open takes place from January 19 to February 1.
The current titleholders are Andre Agassi and Serena Williams, both from the United States.
Currently world number two, Federer is also seeded second for the tournament.
In total, five Swiss (Federer and four women) will be playing in the season’s first grand slam event.
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