Tennis

Federer not bothered about ranking

Swiss veteran is focused only on maintaining his fitness

Roger Federer's impressive return from injury has prompted talk of a possible return to world No. 1, but the 18-time Grand Slam winner says looking after his body is far more important than chasing the ranking positions.

Since coming back from a six-month injury layoff, Federer has won the Australian Open and Indian Wells this year and, yesterday morning (Singapore time), cruised past Juan Martin del Potro to move into the fourth round of the Miami Open.

On the eve of the tournament, his fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka said he believes Federer could regain his No. 1 ranking, but the Swiss maestro has other things on his mind.

"It's not the priority. Health needs to be the priority," said the 35-year-old.

"That's why if I were to get there again, I have to really win a lot of big tournaments and I know how hard that is. I tried to do it for the last five years.

"For me, the priority is actually to win tournaments at this point in my career. The ranking is very secondary.

"That's why my schedule is going to be based on what makes sense for my goals of the season and staying healthy.

"So as long as I'm healthy, I feel like I can play good tennis, enjoy myself and hopefully beat some of the best players in the world, or most of them, and win tournaments as well.

"I think I just have to be a bit more clever in terms of scheduling overall."

Federer is expected to take a break after Miami and his earliest return to court could be the Rome Masters in early May.

He said fans would have to get used to him skipping certain events he might have played in previously.

"Unfortunately, I can't do it all, you know. I can't chase the Davis Cup and the Slams and play all the Masters 1000s.

"At some point, something has to give, unfortunately.

"I wish I could do it all like when I was 24 years old.

"So I think that's where I have to take some important decisions that work well for me as a tennis player, but also for my family and my whole team.

"You need the right balance. I think that's more key than ever right now.

"It hurts for me not playing some tournaments that in the past I would always play.

"But because it is for a good reason, I'll get over it."

Federer will face 14th seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the next round.

Meanwhile, Wawrinka, the top seed, defeated Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-4.

He will now face Germany's Alexander Zverev, who came back from a set down to beat American John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5).

Czech Tomas Berdych, a Miami finalist in 2010, defeated Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-4 while Australia's Nick Kyrgios held off a strong effort from big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic on the way to a 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-2) win.

KYRGIOS ADVANCES

Kyrgios will play Belgian David Goffin, who edged out Argentina's Diego Schwartzmann 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Angelique Kerber despatched Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki 6-2, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final clash with Venus Williams.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams fought past Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) to reach the last eight.

Fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia crashed out to the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 while ailing French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with illness in her match against Caroline Wozniacki. 
- WIRE SERVICES