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Federer to regret missing historic chance

By Chris Pike
26 January 2014 08:58PM EST

ROGER Federer was far from impressed with Rafael Nadal's grunting and stalling in their semi-final but that has nothing to do with him wanting him to lose Sunday's Australian Open final.

Federer ended up losing in straight sets to Nadal in Friday night's semi-final as the Spaniard improved to a 23-10 head-to-head record against the Swiss winner of 17 Grand Slam titles.

That meant that Federer now is no longer the No. 1 ranked player from Switzerland with his good friend Stanislas Wawrinka taking that over from him as he prepares for the first Grand Slam final of his career on Sunday night against Nadal.

That meant that Federer missed a chance of a lifetime of creating an all-Swiss final with Wawrinka, and that's something he would have loved but now come Sunday night he will be cheering on Wawrinka against his long-time rival Spaniard.

"I hope he wins and I hope he gives everything he has. You know, there's no reason not to believe that he can beat Rafa. He's clearly got a tough record against him, but many players have that. There's no difference there," he said.

"Pressure's clearly on Rafa because he's got to win this finals. Stan's in his first Grand Slam finals, so that makes Stan also unpredictable. He's got to use that to his advantage."

Despite the loss to Nadal in the semi finals at the Australian Open and losing the final of the Brisbane International to Lleyton Hewitt, it has been an opening to the 2014 season for Federer that has seen him show that his very best tennis is still there.

He didn’t drop a set on the way to the quarter finals where he did lose the third to Andy Murray, but it was a commanding victory still over the Scot so there was plenty to like about the fortnight from Federer's point of view.

"It's very encouraging, you know, no doubt. Wish I could have won here tonight and then, you know, given an all Swiss final. That's something I'll regret, you know, for a long time. But then again, you know, it was a great start to the season for me," Federer said.

"Would have been nice to win Brisbane, would have been nice to win here tonight, but you can't have it all. I think this is a very good start to the season for me overall. I played some really good tennis here.

"I still feel my best tennis is only ahead of me right now. So I'm looking forward to the next couple of months, how they're going to play out for me, and hopefully by April I feel like I'm going to be at 100 per cent again."

Looking at the semi-final loss to Nadal, Federer just felt he didn't grab hold of the opportunities that he was able to create against the world No. 1.

"Probably the lack of chances I was able to create on the return. Because I hung around, you know, the first couple of sets. So I guess that was frustrating, you know, because I thought I was going to get into more of his service," Federer said.

"If you get the lead at least in the first or second set, at one point maybe I can also a bit more freely, you know, do a bit more what I was hoping to do, play a bit more aggressive. But like that you kind of always have to keep playing to stay with him, to play the score. But, you know, it was a tough match. So I guess that was the toughest part today."

Federer does have a new coach coming into 2014 as well, Swedish great Stefan Edberg, and they came up with some new plans to try against Nadal but it's still a work in progress as their relationship matures.

"I tried a few things, you know. Then again, like I said, I think Rafa does a good job of neutralizing you. The problem was, like I said, because I wasn't getting into enough service games, you're not going to try out a crazy amount of things on your own service games," he said.

"There you need to play tough and aggressive and you just have to be solid. So I guess at times I couldn't quite do what I wanted to do, but that's because of Rafa."

Federer was also frustrated at the end of the first set when Nadal took an extended bathroom break, then an injury time-out and it gave the Swiss the opportunity to speak to the chair umpire about the Spaniards time delays between points and his grunting on every shot.

"Not when he does it every point. But it goes in phases. One point he does and he doesn't. That's just what I was complaining about. Had no impact on the outcome of the match, you know, but the level was the same," Federer said.

"Rafa is doing a much better job today than he used to. I mean, I'm not complaining much about the time. But I think I've played him, what, 33 or 34 times. He's gotten two point penalties over the course of our rivalry. I just think that's not quite happening. I mean, we know how much time he used to take.

"I'm not complaining about so many things. But, I mean, either you have rules or you don't. If you don't have rules, it's fine. Everybody can do whatever they want to do. I just think it's important to enforce the rules on many levels, whatever it may be. On all the players the same way. Don't give me or Djokovic a free pass just because of who we are.

"I think we should all be judged the same way. Not just a guy on Court 16 because the guy had a brutal rally, you have to give him a time violation just because you can. On centre court, they're always going to be afraid, the umpires, to take those decisions. I just like to challenge them a little bit.

"I don't want to go in the office and complain all the time. I never do. I just hope they do their job correctly. If they don't, what are you going to do? Sit and watch. Sometimes you just got to say things. I didn't lose the match because of that. It didn't bother me. I just felt I had to mention something."

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