MELBOURNE: After two decades of high-intensity tennis, non-stop travel, and the commitments that come with being a sporting superstar, Roger Federer is still loving what he does.
The 36-year-old Swiss, who is gunning for a 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, admitted Sunday he was enjoying it as much as ever, if not more.
This is despite saying the lead-up to the opening major of the year had been “intense” with feverish interest from sponsors and media in one of the world’s most marketable athletes.
On top of this, he said the off-season for him was now tougher than playing tournaments so he can get his body in good enough shape to stay at the level needed to be one of the top players in the world.
But he wouldn’t have it any other way as he enters the final years of a glittering career.
“I’ve always enjoyed it, you know. Do I enjoy it more now? It’s unfair if I say yes, because I felt like I loved the time when I was coming up and playing my heroes from TV,” he said.
“I mean, that was extremely cool. It was like a little boy in the candy store back in the day.
“When I was number one in the world, winning all these tournaments, that was a lot of fun, too. That was OK.”
He seems to be getting more out of it now than ever before, traveling with four children — two sets of twins — in tow and conscious perhaps that it will not go on forever.
“Now it’s different,” he admitted on the eve of his 72nd Grand Slam. “Now I have a big family. I have a lot of friends that travel the world with me.
“I get to see familiar faces again at all these events because I’ve made so many friends over the course of my career. I’m so happy to come back to Melbourne, see all my friends that live here in Melbourne.
“It just seems that it’s nice that it’s never actually gone away, the fun aspect of actually enjoying the travel, coming back to Australia.
“Yeah, it’s great times in my life and in my career that we can make it all work, that I can still play tennis. My wife (Mirka) is incredibly supportive.”
He added: “It’s definitely great times. Is it the best ever? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely a lot of fun right now.”