Federer fire still burns strongly
Roger Federer will begin the 2013 season more motivated than ever to compete for tennis's biggest prizes.
The 31-year-old was unable to make it three titles in a row at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Monday night as he went down 7-6 (8/6) 7-5 to world number one Novak Djokovic in a high-class final at London's O2 Arena. He has won almost everything there is to win in the game, but remains as committed to the sport as ever.
"I think it's the love for the game, the appreciation I get from the crowds, I guess playing for records from time to time, playing against different types of generations and playing styles," said Federer.
"I think you need inspiration, motivation from different angles to keep you going because it isn't that simple just to wake up every morning and go for another travel around the world, another practice, another fitness workout, another stretch."
And, while the challenges presented by Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray contribute to fuelling his hunger, Federer also enjoys playing his part in inspiring the next generation.
He added: "It's part of the puzzle that makes me motivated, trying to play against them. But Novak, Andy and Rafa are not the only guys out there. I'm trying to play against many other guys.
"I love playing against particularly young guys just because to many sometimes I'm an idol, which is very strange to me, to be honest. But it's nice seeing them grow, see what the next generation comes up with. So, for me, that would suffice as well."
The dominance of the top four has again been the big story in tennis, with the quartet splitting the grand slam titles between them and almost all tennis's other main prizes as well. Federer believes the uniformity of speed of surface these days plays a part and would like to see a greater difference.
He said: "I think some variety would be nice, some really slow stuff and then some really fast stuff, instead of trying to make everything sort of the same.
"You protect the top guys really by doing that because you have the best possible chance to have them in the semis at this point, I think. But should that be the goal? I'm not sure."