SAO PAULO — Roger Federer says he won’t play as often in the next few years but wants to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 31-year-old Swiss star intends to be more mindful about the tournaments he plays to make sure he can keep playing at a high level.
“I have to make sure that I take care of my schedule, of my body, of my mind,” he said Thursday. “Hopefully, I can still stay on tour for many more years and hopefully play the Olympics here in three and a half years or so, so I have to look far ahead and not just the next six months.”
The winner of 17 Grand Slams is in Sao Paulo for exhibition matches involving Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tommy Robredo, Tommy Haas and Thomaz Bellucci. The Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, are also participating. Federer plays Bellucci, Brazil’s top-ranked player, on Thursday.
Federer has competed in four Olympics, winning a doubles gold in 2008 and a singles silver this year. He would love to make it to the Rio Games.
“There is a lot of passion for sports here,” he said. “It’s a hot place to play tennis right now.”
Federer, who ended the season ranked No. 2, said this year was difficult because of additional commitments that kept him from practice and his family.
“I’ve played a lot of tennis. It’s been a big challenge, especially with the Olympics and the Davis Cup this year,” he said. “I found my way back to world No. 1 and it took a lot of sacrifices. I’d like to be home a little bit more often and in a relaxed fashion.”
Still, he said it was a rewarding season.
“I’m very happy that I’m still playing at a very high level,” said Federer, who won six titles this year, including Wimbledon. “I had one of my best years on tour this year, and one of the most emotional ones, of course. Next year tournament victories will probably be more important than the rankings, that’s why I need to make sure I practice a lot next year.”
Federer played 19 tournaments in 2012, two more than top-ranked Novak Djokovic. No. 3 Andy Murray also played 19 and Rafael Nadal, nursing a knee injury, played only 11.
“I’m not going to play 25 tournaments, but every tournament that I will be playing I’ll be emotionally attached to it because I either won there before or because I’ve been there many times or because I love the city or the country and the fans,” he said. “Today I’ve reached a point in my life that I can pick and choose where I want to play and how much I want to play.”
One of the tournaments he left off his 2013 schedule was Miami, the Masters event in March he has played since 1999 and won twice.
“Miami was a tough decision for me,” he said. “But I have to take some time off, first of all, but most importantly, I need to practice. This year I couldn’t practice at all. Something had to go in the calendar and that was Miami, unfortunately.”
Federer said he thinks he will need two Grand Slams and five to eight titles in other tournaments to get back to No. 1.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “But I’m happy to set that challenge and I’ll give everything I have.”
Posted by Steven White, Author of “Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids”