Gstaad (Switzerland), Feb 1: Roger Federer is hardly dismayed by his Australian Open showing. Indeed, he scoffs at those who talk about his loss there as if it came in an early round rather than the semifinals.
Sure, when asked Thursday about what happened in Melbourne, the No. 1-ranked Federer made a passing reference to "small regrets," such as wishing he'd managed to successfully serve out the first set of his defeat to eventual tournament champion Novak Djokovic.
Federer, though, is really focusing on the future - particularly on his next chances to add to a career total of 12 Grand Slam singles championships, two shy of Pete Sampras' record.
"It's important to look forward. The bigger picture for me is now looking forward to a very, very tough schedule ahead, with the French Open, Wimbledon, Olympics, U.S. Open. That's going to be an interesting time," Federer said in a conference call Thursday. "That's what I'm saving myself for now. Going to get back on the practice court and get ready for that."
Will that preparation - including for Roland Garros, the only major he's never won - include working with a coach? Federer hasn't really had one since parting ways with Tony Roche last spring.
He'll sit down in February and try to arrive at a decision. One possibility would be to continue to have Switzerland's Davis Cup captain, Serevin Luethi, travel with him regularly, while also having more experienced coaches drop in from time to time for added help.
"I don't think I can change my game drastically, and I don't think I should, you know? I have the possibility to vary my game, and that's my big strength," Federer said. "In today's game, it's the details, so that's what I have to keep working on. That's maybe the reason why I have to look for someone else" to work with.
Federer was on the conference call to promote his March 10 exhibition match against Sampras at Madison Square Garden.
Federer pronounced himself healthy and fully recovered from the stomach bug that prevented him from playing any tuneup matches before the Australian Open. Last week's setback there against No. 3 Djokovic ended Federer's record streak of reaching 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals.
It did not, however, change the fact that the Swiss star is atop the rankings, just as he has been every day since Feb. 2, 2004.
"Eventually somebody will catch up, but I try to make it as difficult as possible, and that's why I'm happy I actually did play the semis. People, I think, are talking like I lost in the second round or something," Federer said. "But under the circumstances - having not played a tournament before and maybe being also a bit sick - I was actually quite happy with the result in the end."
"Of course," he made sure to add, "I wish I could have played better against Djokovic