Indian Wells, March 15: Roger Federer is eager to resume his role as tennis dominator after getting the medical all-clear as he suffered in recent months with a mystery case of the mononucleosis virus.
And the superb Swiss feels that the time is right to step up his game after an unexpected early-season lull with a storming performance at the Indian Wells Masters. The top seed goes into second-round action at the weekend, after losing his last two matches - an Australian Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic and the Dubai first round to Andy Murray. He has yet to lift a title in 2008, his slowest start since 1999.
But dual defeats at the hands of promising 20-year-olds have certainly not broken the Federer spirit.
Even as a somewhat untested top seed, the Swiss with a dozen Grand Slam singles titles displays his characteristic calm as he prepares to get his game back into top gear.
"I don't feel much pressure, like I can't walk anymore," he joked on Friday. "I'm always very relaxed.
"It doesn't matter if it's before finals or before a first round, every match is difficult. The danger is always there before first round match, and you just want to get through that point."
Federer will play his opening match against either Argentine Sergio Roitman or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.
The longtime world number one said that finally feeling good is an important part of his attitude this week in the desert where he won titles 2004-2006.
He believes that some of the emphasis has shifted at this edition to holder Rafael Nadal and finalist Novak Djokovic.
"I'm just trying to sort of play well again. For them it's different, because they have maybe their own tough draw and maybe they're together in one section.
"I don't think it's a particular pressure because I lost early (opening match to Guillernmo Canas) last year and they won. I don't see it this way, really.
"My focus is really trying to start playing some matches again. The really important (part of the season) is coming up for me - Indian Wells until the US Open.
"I'm going to be playing every second week at least, if not back-to-back, and this is really where my focus is at the moment.
"Trying to stay healthy, come back on tour and win matches again, and then everything will happen by itself again."
Federer drew a crowd of hundreds as he trained a day earlier with James Blake, his game looking on devastating form in the hit-up.
"The only thing missing is matches. I'm not focusing on the number one position, I just want to win matches again."