Federer ready to prove he can win on clay

4/10/2007 - Tennis

BASEL, Switzerland -- Roger Federer warned his rivals that he is fully fired-up
for the start of the clay-court season despite his recent shocking
defeats to Guillermo Canas.

"I think if I lost to two different players I would think I
wasn't playing well, but with one guy I can think 'OK, this guy
is on a roll'. It's just easier to digest."
-- Roger Federer on his losses to Guillermo Canas

The usually flawless Federer suffered two unexpected losses
to Canas, currently ranked 29th in the world, at the Masters
Series hard-court events in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne but insisted
on Tuesday that he was ready to bounce back on clay.

"They were tough matches for me and Miami hurt in particular
because losing 7-6 in the third set is never fun," Federer told
a news conference in his home city of Basel.

"But I would honestly rather lose to the same guy twice than
lose to two different guys.

"I think if I lost to two different players I would think I
wasn't playing well, but with one guy I can think 'OK, this guy
is on a roll'. It's just easier to digest."

Federer, a 10-time Grand Slam winner, was in Basel to
unveil a postage stamp commissioned in his honor by the Swiss

He is due to fly to Monaco on Wednesday for next week's
clay-court Master Series tournament in Monte Carlo.

Federer has not played a match since his second defeat to
Canas on March 27 and he is hoping his rare slump could even
prove a blessing in the long-term -- by giving him more time to
prepare for his tough summer schedule.

"That's the only advantage I can see, because it has
definitely taken away my confidence a little bit, but it has
also given me more time and maybe that is just as good a thing.

"It's exactly what I didn't have for the last two or three
years, one of those surprise losses where all of a sudden I got
more time off so I hope it can help me out."

Federer said he had spent time since the second defeat
building up his fitness levels with conditioning coach Pierre
Paganini and would use Monte Carlo to test the level of his
clay-court play.

"There were a few seasons when I skipped Monaco to give
myself more of a break but I have stopped doing that because the
tournament gives you a good idea of how you are playing and what
stuff you still have to work on at the practice courts.

"It's similar to the French Open in the way it plays and
even if you lose in the first round it helps give an indication
of how the other guys are playing and reminds you how clay is
supposed to be played."

Despite playing mainly on clay as a youngster, Federer has
rarely managed to play at his formidable best on the surface.

As a result, he is still chasing his first French Open title
-- the only Grand Slam tournament still to elude him.

"Last year I couldn't win a single clay-court tournament, so
I want to do that this year, and the French Open is obviously
huge for me as the one Slam I haven't yet won," Federer said.

"If I can win it this year it would also mean I could still
win all four Slams in a row. Then the following month I will be
trying to equal Bjorn Borg's record [of five successive
Wimbledon titles], so it's going to be a very interesting summer
for me.

"Hopefully the time off after Miami should be an important
part of making sure I'm absolutely ready for the next tough 12