Federer healthy, ready to play
HOUSTON -- Roger Federer is back in Andy Roddick's home state, trying to put the finishing touches on a dominant season in men's tennis.
Federer will be the favorite going into the ATP Masters Cup at Westside Tennis Club that starts Monday. Roddick, the former No. 1, will be his primary pursuer when the top eight players in the world meet in the final ATP event of the season.
With an 8-1 career record against Roddick, Federer wants to maintain his mastery of the top American -- who lives a three-hour drive away in Austin.
"Remember, our careers are only at the beginning," Federer said. "I try not to be superstitious. If I practice well, it doesn't mean I'll have a good match, and if I practice badly it doesn't mean I'll have a bad match. There are no signs."
There is no reason for Federer, 23, to lack confidence. He's ranked No. 1 in the world after winning 10 tournaments -- including three Grand Slams -- this year. He has been slowed recently by a pulled thigh muscle, but after a lengthy workout this week Federer pronounced himself in good shape.
Federer's ascent to the top of the world rankings started with a victory over Roddick at last year's Masters Cup tournament at Westside when Roddick was ranked No. 1.
"Wimbledon was my proudest moment this year," Federer said. "The principle goal in 2005 is to be No. 1."
The Masters Cup format includes four players each in red and blue groups playing a round robin to reach the semifinals on Nov. 20, with the championship match the following day.
Federer is seeded atop the blue group, which also includes former U.S. Open champion Marat Safin, Guillermo Coria and Tim Henman. Roddick leads the red group that also includes two-time Masters Cup champion Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and French Open champion Gaston Gaudio.
Roddick has been a favorite at Westside Tennis Club since he was a tour rookie and won the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship there in 2001. Roddick beat Pete Sampras for the clay-court title in 2002 and has been runner-up the past two years.
Hewitt, formerly ranked No. 1 in the world, has won four ATP titles this season and would love to finish the year with a victory over Federer -- who eliminated Hewitt in the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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