By ESPNSTAR.com staff
As a consequence of his stunning year-end run last season during which he won three straight titles in Basel, Paris and London, the Swiss has 3000 ranking points to defend this year from now until the end of 2012.
As if that was not a tall enough order already, world number two Novak Djokovic closed the gap with Federer to only 195 points after lifting the Shanghai Rolex Masters trophy on Sunday. The win, combined with Federer's semi-final loss to Andy Murray in the same tournament has put the Serb in pole position to finish the year as world number one for the second season running.
However, the 17-time Grand Slam winner will not go down without a fight.
"I would love to finish No. 1 for the end of the year," he told atpworldtour.com. "For that, it's going to take a great stretch again, winning Basel, Paris and London I assume to give myself a chance. We'll see how it goes. I'm relaxed about it. I'll give everything I can."
Federer has already surpassed most expectations this year, winning Wimbledon, taking silver at the Olympics and becoming number one again (he completed an astonishing 300 weeks at the top this Monday). He would love to finish the year as number one, but is not overly worried about it.
"I want to get through this season well and finish strong. But it's not the number one goal right now. Right now, it's to manage my schedule, hopefully be in good shape for Basel, then kind of go from there. The goal was to become World No. 1 this year, which happened, not the end of the year. But if that happens, that's a bonus," he said.
After beating Murray for his seventh Wimbledon title in the summer, Federer has lost twice in succession to the Brit - in the Olympic gold medal match and in Shanghai - but doesn't think the US Open champion's success should surprise anyone.
I mean, is he more confident? Maybe," he reflected. "There's not as much on the line as in the Olympic final. He's coming off the US Open win, [it was a semi-final], not a final, so he can play a bit more freely. I think I felt that from Andy.
"But, I also struggled with him at the Olympics. I think he's playing really well now since a long time, not just six months. He's been playing well for years now. He's in his prime right now, so you assume he's playing his absolute best at this very moment."
Federer will head to his hometown of Basel for the ATP 500 event there before heading to Paris for the last Masters tournament of the season.