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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Federer sings praises of older players

Photo Titled Karlovic and Federer
Ivo Karlovic congratulates Roger Federer on his straight sets victory.

His penchant for cardigans already seemed to give it away, but on Wednesday, Roger Federer confirmed the fact that he is a card-carrying member of the older generation and proud of it. He had just defeated hard-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic in straight sets to book a place in his 21st consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, and for once the candidates to join him in the final four were far nearer their 30s than just into their 20s.

“To be quite honest, I'm very happy that so many [older] guys have made it through to the second week, to the quarter-final stages. I'm very happy Ferrero’s come a long way again, because sometimes he gets forgotten next to all the hype in Spain with Rafa (Nadal). Obviously we'll have Andy (Roddick) or Lleyton (Hewitt) going through,” said Federer, who will turn 28 in August. “I like a good mix, so that it's not always just the young guys and me.

“Sure it's cool once in a while, but I still like to play the guys also who I used to play when I came up and who were my main rivals for many years. I played against Ferrero (29 last February) in juniors, Hewitt (28 last February) as well. I didn’t play Roddick (27 in August) but we obviously met back in the day in finals (Wimbledon 2004 and 2005, US Open 2006).”

“After a certain amount of years, you have a very solid base, and then you start working on the little details and they come out in key moments of the match. I think this is where every player tries to make a big push in their own game,” said the number two seed.

The man he will meet in Friday's semi-final is another veteran. At 31 years and 3 months, Tommy Haas was the oldest man in the last eight but his recent form on grass – capturing the title in Halle then winning five straight matches here – makes him a dangerous, if familiar adversary for Federer.

“I’ve trained with him a lot, and I knew that it was just a matter of time before he started getting good results again,” said the Swiss about the three-time Australian Open semi-finalist who underwent shoulder surgery in November 2007 and plummeted out of the top 50.

“We’ve got closer recently, training then going for something to eat together afterwards. It’s great when someone shows the determination to come back after injury.

“I’m really pleased for him – he played great in Paris [coming within five points of eliminating Federer in the fourth round on the clay of Roland Garros] and I know the danger that I’ll be facing as grass and hard court suit him better. I’d rather play Haas than Djokovic as he’s someone from my generation,” Federer summed up.

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