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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 
Lindsey Vonn, Roger Federer

"I know my game's not going to disappear if I take a day off," Roger Federer said.

Photo credit: Lindt

LONDON—Scaling the summit of the sport left Roger Federer with the desire to go downhill fast in his younger years.

Years ago, when Federer wasn’t refining his all-court artistry on the practice court, he was indulging his all-sport appetite with downhill skiing, soccer and squash often on the menu.

More: Chilling With Rafa At 4 a.m.

These days, the 36-year-old Swiss retricts his sporting pursuits solely to tennis.

“Well, it's definitely different to 15 years ago,” Federer told the media following his 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 Nitto ATP Finals victory over Alexander Zverev. “I would go play squash sometimes on my off days. Then you're like, Hmm? Wonder why you're so tired in the semis. How come you have a groin problem all of a sudden? Playing too much soccer maybe on the grass.

“These things don't happen any more. I'm not skiing any more like I used to until 2008. So, yes, especially with sports, honestly, I've cut back completely since 2008, since I had the mono”

That doesn’t mean the former sport fanatic has become a couch potato.

Federer and wife Mirka are the parents of two sets of twins—eight-year-old daughters Myla and Charlene and three-year-old sons Leo and Lenny—and get quite a workout playing with the kids.

“But then the kids keep me busy,” Federer said. “I don't have one, I don't have two, I have four. I don't want to be just lying on my couch, as well. But they also have to be a little bit careful that sometimes I don't overdo it. I like my time with my kids, and I can't control myself other than just to play with them, as well, and go outside.”

Twenty years after earning his first ATP ranking points and 14 years after he defeated Andre Agassi to win his first year-end championship in Houston, Federer says less is more.

“I'll take a day off tomorrow,” Federer said after securing a spot in his 14th semifinal in 15 Nitto ATP Finals appearances. “I probably didn't do that back in 2005 in Shanghai during the World Tour Finals. I would probably go practice somewhere, somehow, just because you're supposed to be hitting.

“But I know my game's not going to disappear if I take a day off. Actually, it's quite nice to be able to do that, and having the confidence in your level of play that you can actually keep that up. So I think I actually have to work less today than I used to. When I do, naturally I do it with quality because I know every practice counts, every fitness counts, every session matters.”



In retrospect, Federer believes banking rest rather than riding the winning wave relentlessly was revitalizing and a primary reason he’s winning Grand Slam titles 18 years after he made his major debut at Roland Garros.

The three-set victory over Zverev vaulted Federer into his 14th semifinal in 15 Nitto ATP Finals appearances, but that won't compel him to cram more tournaments into his 2018 schedule.

When it comes to creating his calendar, the 19-time Grand Slam champion values quality over quantity.

“You always need the right balance, I feel like, enough practice, enough matches, enough time off,” Federer said. “I guess as you get older, everything becomes a bit different.”

 

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