Roger Federer reveals how he has been enamoured by Australia since his teenage years and thoroughly enjoys his time Down Under.
The Fed Express is looking to make it 20 grand slams this year in Melbourne, a place that has brought him much success and happiness. While Federer has raised the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup above his head five times, it was a dream that started decades ago with his first visit.
“It was our last big family vacation, if you will, with my sister and my parents before I left home and went to the national tennis centre in Switzerland," the 36-year-old told the Australian Open website.
"We had a beautiful vacation, we went to the Great Barrier Reef and went to Heron Island. I remember it was a beautiful place and ever since I fell in love with Australia.
"I think it's just an incredible situation now, travelling with our kids, with my wife and still willing to do it because in my vision, in my dream that I had when I was a little boy, I didn't have the vision of looking up to the player box and seeing maybe four kids potentially and a wife and a coach and a physio. I didn't see that.”
Sights and sounds aside, Federer was also inspired by Australia’s legends of the past, in particular a talented trio that notched up no less than 31 grand slam titles between them.
“They've had incredible legends in this country that I've looked up to,” continued the Basel native.
“Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall. It's just an amazing bunch of guys that really inspired a lot of the tennis players that still play today. One of them was me.”
Arriving in Melbourne as the defending champion carries with it added pressure and with the absence of Andy Murray as well as injury clouds hanging over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the pressure just went up a few bars.
“Defending a title the very first time is the hard part…if you don't win, it's all dramatic but later on in life you take it as it comes, try your best and if it works out, great but if it doesn't it just doesn't,” said Federer.
“I think it’s I think it's normal because there's a lot of expectations this year. Everybody thinks I probably have a good chance to maybe repeat and other guys are maybe a bit hurt.
“All these things all play into it but at the end of the day I've been in this position thankfully many times before."