Dubai: Roger Federer has brushed off his Australian Open defeat to Novak Djokovic and says he feels as ready as ever to confront the season`s challenges.
The world number two, beaten by Djokovic in straight sets in their semi-final in Melbourne, returns to competition at the Dubai championships this week, aiming to recapture a title he last won in 2007.
"I didn`t really spend so much time thinking about the match with Novak," Federer told reporters. "It was more in general taking the first month of the year and thinking how has it gone. I felt good physically. Came out of the (Australian Open) tournament feeling good, although obviously it`s disappointing to lose.”
"After the match I felt fine, although it was really intense. It hasn`t always felt that way. Sometimes you leave tournaments and you feel sore, tired, exhausted. Not feeling that way was something that was a big positive for me.”
"I thought Novak played great. It was a close match and we`ve played many in the past. This one went his way but the season is very long so there is no real reason to be too brutal on yourself."
Federer took a break after Melbourne to prepare for a crowded schedule that will now keep him busy until Wimbledon in June.
"Had the perfect vacation," he said. "Spent a lot of time with my kids and (wife) Mirka.”
"In the perfect world a body needs time to rest and heal and mentally get away from it all. This time around we had a longer time off and it did me really well. Nice."
Although he turns 30 in August, Federer said he feels the strain of competition much less than he used to.
"I always used to have incredible muscle pain. In tough matches I would come out and barely walk the next day," he said. "Today is different, you know. Basically the Novak match at the end of the Australian Open, which was a tough tournament for me, I had a spring in my step. I was like, `OK, vacation`.”
"When I was young I was like, `I`m so tired, I`m so exhausted from the mental drag and everything`. And today, after three days, I can start playing tennis again.”
"It`s a different type of fatigue, I guess, but today I find it easier to handle the stress on tour and the tough matches just because I am so much more fit and I know what to expect, whereas when you are a young guy you don`t know your limits so you push that extra bit too hard and be completely exhausted or even injured."
Federer is seeded first in a Dubai tournament that also includes defending champion Djokovic, Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych and 2010 Dubai finalist Mikhail Youzhny.