Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer says he's fit and raring to go for the Shanghai Master Cup which includes all eight of the world's top players.This content was published on November 11, 2006 - 20:30
The world number one won the opening match on Sunday against Argentina's defending champion David Nalbandian 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 and avenged his defeat in last year's final.
Federer, who pulled out of the Paris Masters last month due to fatigue after consecutive victories in Madrid and Basel, said he had no health worries.
"Last year I was injured when I arrived to play in Shanghai, but this time round I'm one hundred per cent fit," said the 25-year-old on his arrival in China.
In 2005 Federer had to take a month off following surgery on his right ankle before taking part in the Shanghai tournament. He then lost to Nalbandian in an epic five-setter on the indoor court of the Qi Zhong Stadium.
"It's fantastic to once again have Roger Federer competing here," wrote Brad Drewett, the director of the Shanghai Masters.
"Roger is the most popular tennis player in China and I know that a great many Chinese fans are keen to see him recapture his crown following his spectacular defeat last year."
After the rematch of last year's final against the Argentine, the Swiss star will play the Croatian Ivan Ljubicic and the American Andy Roddick in the "red group".
The Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo will face American James Blake and Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in the first "gold group"-matches on Monday.
The eight-man season-ending tournament has a round-robin format with the top two players from each group progressing to the semi-finals ahead of the November 19 final.
Unlike last year when many of the leading players had to pull out at the last minute due to injury (Rafael Nadal, Marat Safin, Andy Rodddick and Andre Agassi), this time round the top eight players in the world are present.
Although anything could happen in this last tournament of the season – the fifth-most important after the four Grand Slam events (the Australian and US Opens, Wimbledon and the French Open) – Federer's main opponent is expected to be Davydenko.
The Russian is the form player after lifting the Paris Masters trophy last Sunday in a convincing victory over the Slovak Nikolay Hrbaty to earn his tenth title.
Davydenko, who rose to number three in the world on the back of his fifth tournament victory in 2006, has already played 31 events this year but will be confident of getting into the semi-finals by finishing in the top two of his group.
swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux
After winning two Tennis Masters Cup titles in 2003 and 2004, Federer was beaten in last year's spectacular five-set final by the Argentine David Nalbandian.
Federer has won 11 tournaments this year including three Grand Slam events. Ahead of the Shanghai competition, the Swiss star has gone 24 matches without defeat and won four consecutive titles (US Open, Tokyo, Madrid and Basel).
In 2006 he has won 87 matches and lost 5. He is already assured of finishing the season as the world's number one player for the third year in succession.
On his arrival in China, Federer announced that he would not take part in the first round of the Davis Cup tournament between Spain and Switzerland in Geneva next year. He said he wanted to concentrate on defending his title and the four Grand Slam competitions.
Tennis Masters Cup
The Tennis Masters Cup is tennis tournament played annually at the end of each year, involving the top eight players in the men's tennis world rankings.
The eight players are divided into two groups of four, and each play three round-robin matches against the other three players in their group. The two players with the best records in each group progress to the semi-finals, with the semi-final winners meeting in the final to determine the champion.
The 2006 Tennis Masters Cup will be held in Shanghai, China between November 12-18, 2006.
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