Federer aims to keep expectations in check

Roger Federer did not know what to expect when he touched down in Australia earlier this year.

He was 35 and coming back from a first surgery-enforced absence to the sport he dominated for more than a decade since his maiden Wimbledon title in 2003.

The six months off, however, appeared to be positively cathartic as he provided arguably the major talking point of the tennis circuit by reviving a career that pundits thought could be over with the injury.

He beat Rafael Nadal in an epic final to win his fifth Australian Open crown and then clinched his eighth Major on the grass courts of south-west London to take his Grand Slam tally to a record 19.

He also finished the year with seven titles and the world No. 2 ranking.

However, Federer, who begins his 2018 campaign at the combined-teams Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, recognises that while expectations might be a little higher, he was trying to ensure they did not get out of control.

"Expectations are higher but, at the same time, I try to remind myself (to) just don't think it's normal and realistic to aim for the same things I did this year in 2017," he said after he arrived in Australia.

Federer previously used the Kooyong invitational tournament to warm up for the Australian Open but returned to the Hopman Cup last year to team up with compatriot Belinda Bencic. The pair finished second in their group.

"Obviously, looking ahead to Melbourne, I really hope that Hopman Cup's going to give me everything I need here," Federer said of starting the season in Perth, where he and his 20-year-old partner will face Japan, Russia and the United States in the group stage.

"It worked out perfectly this year, (winning) at the Australian Open. Of course, that's a good omen." - REUTERS