Former world number one Roger Federer is confident he can still mix it with the best, despite losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals.
Federer fought back late in the match but the Swiss great was outclassed 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 by defending champion Djokovic at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
Arguably the greatest player of all time, Federer – who fell behind 23-22 in the head-to-head record between the two – is a 17-time grand slam singles champion but he has not won a major since Wimbledon in 2012.
Djokovic has claimed five slams in that period, while Rafael Nadal (three), Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka (both two) and Marin Cilic (one) have also won majors with the Swiss watching on.
But Federer still believes he can add to his collection before retiring.
“I have self-confidence. That doesn’t fade away very quickly. I know it’s not easy. I never thought it was easy,” said the 34-year-old.
“Best-of-three, best-of-five, I can run for four or five hours. It’s not a problem. I prove it in practice again in the off-season, no sweat. So from that standpoint I’m not worried going into long rallies. I know you guys make it a different case. I get that, because you think I’m old and all that. But it’s no problem for me.
“But it doesn’t scare me when I go into a big match against any player who’s in their prime right now. But of course you need to prove yourself. You need to have all that going. It’s disappointing, but at the same time I’m going deep in slams right now. I’m having great runs. I thought I had a tough draw here, so I’m actually pleased where my level’s at, at the beginning of the season.
“Novak right now is a reference for everybody. He’s the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late, and Stan when he was on fire when he was in Paris. It’s okay. I wish I could have played a bit better, and who knows what would have happened.
“Today Novak was very, very good. There’s no doubt about it.”
Of the first set, which Djokovic wrapped up in just 22 minutes, Federer added: “I’ve seen Novak play this well before. It’s tough when it’s from the start because obviously you [have] got to try to stop the bleeding at some point. Because he returns very well, like Andre Agassi. He can get one or two sets all of a sudden. Those sets run away very quickly.
“Before you can really sometimes do something, [in] 45 minutes a lot of tennis is being played and it’s tough to get back into it. I found a way. Started to play better myself. Made a bit of a match out of it, which was nice. But [I’m] still disappointed, obviously, that it didn’t go better tonight.”
Should he call it quit now?