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Roger Federer starts US Open in good shape

Federer is preparing to defend his US Open title

(Keystone)

As Swiss tennis star Roger Federer prepares to defend his title at the US Open, his personal trainer tells swissinfo how the player has been shaping up.

Pierre Paganini followed Federer's progress during his recent six-week break. Last week Federer returned to the court to win in Cincinnati and starts the US Open as favourite.

In July, shortly after winning his third consecutive Wimbledon title, Federer announced he would be taking time out due to a foot injury.

But six weeks later the world number one was back in top form, with a straight-sets win over Andy Roddick at the Cincinnati Masters - his 22nd tournament victory in a row.

This stands him in good stead for the US Open in New York, which is the final tournament of the tennis season. He has been drawn to meet Czech Ivo Minar in his first-round match.

Paganini says that Federer's break has allowed the player to face the rest of the season calmly and that he is well-prepared for the challenges which lie ahead.

swissinfo: What is Roger Federer's frame of mind ahead of the US Open?

Pierre Paganini: It's difficult for me to reply to that question because only Roger really knows the answer to that. But what I can say is that he not only has the necessary modesty to take his first matches seriously but also an enormous self-confidence to achieve the big things.

swissinfo: Does this mean that he has not yet recovered from his foot injury?

P.P.: His foot is fine. It was an inflammation but it was under control. Roger hadn't yet reached the critical stage with the injury but it was necessary to stop for prevention reasons. It's much better to take a break a bit earlier than when it is too late.

swissinfo: What did Federer do in the six-week break?

P.P.: "Rog" mostly took a holiday. Afterwards we planned together different fitness programmes according to how his injury progresses.

The final part of the work was mostly about his tennis training and trainer Tony Roche joined Roger for that. This mid-season break really allowed us to work on Roger's all-round fitness and on getting everything up to scratch.

Recuperation is really an active part of training, which Roger has understood. He knows his capabilities really well and he knows what's good or bad for him.

swissinfo: Is Federer now stronger physically than he has been in the past?

P.P.: There has definitely been a progression, especially between the ages of 20 and 24 when he progressed enormously. But that didn't happen on its own and you really have to salute Roger's self-sacrifice when it comes to fitness training and the efforts he makes to achieve a good all-round level of fitness.

It's impossible for a player to always be in peak condition. During the most difficult times a player's strength also resides in the quality of their tennis and in their mental toughness.

swissinfo-interview: Raphaël Donzel and Mathias Froidevaux

Key facts

Six Swiss are competing in the US Open: Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka, George Bastl and Michael Lammer in the men's competition; Patty Schnyder and Emmanuelle Gagliardi in the women's contest.
Roger Federer holds five Grand Slam titles (three Wimbledon, one US Open and one Australian Open). He has never won the French Open.

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In brief

Roger Federer will defend his title at the US Open which starts on Monday. He won last year's Open – always the last Grand Slam tournament of the season - with a three-set victory over Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

After winning Wimbledon for the third time this year, Federer decided to take a six-week break to care for a foot injury.

He returned with a victory at the Cincinnati Masters in Ohio last Sunday.

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