Revitalised Federer says Wimbledon the main goal now

And for very good reason.While Swiss maestro Federer was unable to prevent world number one Nadal claiming a record-equalling sixth French Open, his performances this year at Roland Garros suggest he can add to his 16 Grand Slam titles. What is more, the Roger-Rafa rivalry, one of the greatest the sport has seen, looks set for a few more skirmishes after both began the year looking vulnerable.

Spanish clay king Nadal has now beaten Federer in four French Open finals but he was given a real scrap before getting his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday. Had it not been for a few tight shots here and there, it could have been Federer celebrating.

Federer’s astounding semifinal victory over Novak Djokovic on Friday, snapping the Serb’s incredible 41-match winning streak this season, silenced the doubters who assumed the 29-year-old could no longer threaten the world’s top two. There were also phases of play against Nadal when he looked back to his best -- as he predicted.

“I told people that we should wait six months after the Australian Open when people thought Rafa and me were done,” Federer said after the final. “It’s unfortunate that it goes so quickly at times. Now we’re back in the finals and now it’s different talk again. I don’t even go there, because I knew it wasn’t the case.”

Nadal and Federer had not faced each other in a Grand Slam final since the Spaniard won the 2009 Australian Open in five sets. Nadal had not won a major since last year’s US Open, while Federer’s last Grand Slam triumph was at the 2010 Australian Open.

The world number three barely seemed to care. “I’ve been confident for almost a year now. I think I lost some confidence maybe through the French Open and Wimbledon last year but I was in the finals of (the Wimbledon warm-up event in) Halle as well in this period, so I didn’t feel like I was running after confidence,” said Federer, whose priority was to get back into a Grand Slam final.

“It was just important to get to another Grand Slam final, keep on playing well,” he explained. “I’m feeling better physically than I have in a long time, so that’s been very positive. Also, after this sort of tough weekend I feel really good, so that’s been positive, too. Sure, it was a huge match with Novak. Obviously I’m happy about that win.Today was a very good match. Overall obviously I’m very happy about the tournament.”
Having played some of his best tennis during the last fortnight, Federer is now heading to Wimbledon in buoyant mood and few will be discounting his chances. “That’s obviously the huge priority right now, to win Wimbledon in a few weeks time,” he said. “That’s always, for me, the sort of No 1 goal in the season.”

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