Whilst Roger Federer’s closest rivals come into the Australian Open with question marks over their fitness, the 37-year-old Swiss player is still looking and feeling good.
Conversely, at six years Federer’s junior, Andy Murray has confirmed his retirement in 2019 due to a right hip injury; this following a career dogged by major back and wrist issues.
Rafael Nadal has also been hampered by continuing knee and wrist problems, and will make a return to competitive tennis at Melbourne Park following ankle surgery.
Federer’s sole injury occurred following an accident as he ran a bath for his children in 2016, which left him side-lined for six months with a knee issue.
Whilst many around him falter, he has attributed much of his ability to stay in shape and compete without serious injury for twenty years to luck.
Speaking at his pre-Australian Open press conference, he said: "I mean, I definitely need a little bit of luck," per The Metro.
"If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go."
Referring to the 2016 Australian Open and playing against Novak Djokovic, he went on to say: "Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn’t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.
"Then I think I really understand my body very well. I know when something hurts and I can play with it; I know when something hurts and I should not play with it, but I can still play maybe a match, maybe a week, a month, whatever it may be. Sometimes that helps. But I feel like every player has that.
"I can only speak about my team. I think my team also, they know when to push me, when actually they are happy that I don’t practice so much.
"I’ve always also believed I can play tennis when I don’t train so much. I think that’s been maybe one thing that for me, the confidence I have in my game, even if I don’t play so much, I still feel like I can come up to a good level. Maybe takes away some pressure.
"Maybe also the way I play tennis, maybe its smoother than the other guys. It just maybe looks that way. I work extremely hard in the matches as well. It just maybe doesn’t come across so much. I don’t know if that’s also something that maybe is part of the equation."
Federer is looking to make history in Melbourne in 2019 and is seeking to secure a record seventh Australian Open and 100th career title should he safely navigate the draw over the coming two weeks and remain confident in the run up to his opening match.
Nevertheless, he refuses to look further than first opponent Denis Istomin, who defeated Djokovic at the 2017 Open.
"Well, I don’t want to overanalyse how I played in the off-season, how I played at the Hopman Cup," he added.
"That’s exactly how then I might not recover if I have a bad start in the match tomorrow, let’s say. So I think the focus really is on those early rounds, especially tomorrow has to be.
"I know what Denis did to Novak. I watched basically the entire game a couple years ago when he beat Novak here. I’ve had some tough ones against him in the past. He can play well in fast courts, and that’s what it’s going to be a little bit here as well.
"Look, I’m playing good tennis. I’m confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me. That’s always a good thought. But then again, I think I’m playing well.
"Depending on how you match up with your opponent, who is going to win the big points, the margins are so slim nowadays that I’m just not thinking too far ahead.
"I don’t think I should because I think that would be a mistake. I hope I can put myself in contention as the tournament goes deeper, but we’ll see."News Now - Sport News