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Federer serves warning to Olympic rivals

Roger Federer will be going for gold in Athens

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s Roger Federer, the world’s number one tennis player, has his heart set on winning Olympic gold in Athens.

Federer, who narrowly missed out on a medal in Sydney four years ago, is seen as the country’s best bet for a win in the Greek capital.

The Swiss, who will be Switzerland’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony, has been in dominant form all year.

Prior to last week’s first-round defeat in Cincinatti, which most commentators put down to exhaustion, Federer had won 23 games on the trot.

His unbeaten streak brought him four tournament titles: Halle, Wimbledon, Gstaad and Toronto.

This run of results also put the Basel star on a par with tennis legend Bjorn Borg, the only other player to have won three successive tournaments on three different surfaces (grass, clay and hardcourt).

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Germany’s Tommy Haas beat Federer for a place in the final. The Swiss then lost the bronze medal match against France’s Arnaud Di Pasquale.

Winning the Olympic gold has been one of the 23-year-old’s stated goals for the season.

He has already completed two of them by successfully defending his Wimbledon title and notching up his first tournament victory on home soil in Gstaad.

swissinfo: Roger Federer, what do the Olympics mean to you?

Roger Federer: I’m very proud to be taking part in my second Olympic Games. After my good result in Sydney, I had been hoping to go to Athens for the past four years.

I’m on my way now, and I’m very happy to be representing Switzerland, something I can usually only do during the Davis Cup.

swissinfo: You are the world number one and favourite for the Olympic tennis title. What do you hope to achieve in Athens?

R.F.: I would say that participating in the Olympics is already enough for me. But it’s true that winning a medal would be the icing on the cake, and taking the gold home would be a dream for me.

swissinfo: Are preparations for the Olympics different from other competitions?

R.F.: Yes, even compared with Sydney. The team that is travelling with me and looking after me is not the same.

The team spirit is also different, and I will get to play the doubles tournament with my friend Yves Allegro - something that doesn’t happen very often.

swissinfo, Raphael Donzel

Key facts

Roger Federer has won two grand slam tournaments this year: the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
He has also won tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Hamburg, Halle, Gstaad and Toronto in 2004.
This year, he has won 57 matches and only lost five, earning him $3.7 million (SFr4.7 million) in prize money.
Switzerland's Marc Rosset won Olympic tennis gold in Barcelona in 1992.

end of infobox

In brief

Tennis matches in Athens will take place at the Olympic Tennis Centre.

Games will be spread out over eight days, starting on August 15.

Over 170 players will take part in the tennis competition, including Federer, Allegro, Patty Schnyder and Myriam Casanova.

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