Federer unfazed as Nadal closes in on top spot

“I feel good, I’m focused,” said the Swiss, who has been number one since February 2004 and who has been trying to defend his Cincinnati Masters title last week.

“I’m not focused on Rafa; he’s on the other side of the draw. Of course, he’s been playing great and is on an unbelievable winning streak.”

Nadal claimed a seventh title this season two weeks ago as he defeated Nicolas Kiefer in straight sets for the Toronto Masters trophy.

“We’re back on hard-court again and it’s hard to keep winning. But what he’s doing is terrific,” said Federer.

The world number one said that fighting off Nadal cannot produce any more stress than a Wimbledon final, where he won five titles in succession before falling to his Spanish rival in an epic five-set final earlier this month.

“There’s always pressure, but I expect to win my matches and tournaments. I’ve had that for four or five years. It’s nothing new. It’s only that number one is in more danger than in the past.”

But the 26-year-old is sticking to the long-range approach which has always characterised his game.

“I focus on the big picture, prepare well and try not to go crazy over the ranking. I know there’s a lot of talk about it now, and Rafa does deserve the credit. I just hope to get in a hard-court roll this week and be in great shape for the Olympics.”

Nadal came into Cincinnati just 300 points behind Federer, who was beaten in his opening match in Toronto by Frenchman Gilles Simon.

The Spaniard has been ranked number two for a record 157 weeks and may take over number one spot today if he wins the title and Federer, on top for 234 weeks, loses before the semi-finals.

“I think I have to be happy, very happy if I am number one or number two,” said Nadal, the French Open and Wimbledon champion. “If I am number two it’s because in front of me there is an amazing player like Roger. Every player wants to be number one. I would love to be. But I’m number two now. I’m very happy for that.”

Nadal’s victory at the Toronto Masters was his 30th from 38 finals.

It was his 12th Masters trophy and came in a season where the 22-year-old has collected a fourth Roland Garros crown and a first Wimbledon title. ‘ New Ziana/Sapa-AFP.

August 2008
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