New York fan support pushed Federer to 2008 title

As he bids to make it six trophies in a row starting Monday at Flushing Meadows, the world number one is counting on the punters in their thousands to show their support again after cheering him through in last year's final over Andy Murray.

"I was lucky enough that when I got to New York that the fans were, I think, really there trying to push me back to number one right away," he recalled after losing the top ranking to Rafael Nadal in August 2008. "All the cab drivers and everybody was stopping to wish me luck. It was something that I've never really experienced before in New York. I think that really helped turn it around for me."

Federer cited repeated disappointments last summer coming into New York: Wimbledon, where he lost the 2008 finals to Nadal, and Beijing, where he suffered an early loss in singles. "The fans, for me, really turned it around, and that's why this year I'm so excited going back there," he said. "I've had even better results, so I hope I can again show them what I can do on a tennis court."

Federer was planning a few quiet days with the family in Manhattan, with the new father dreaming of wheeling his twins, Charlene and Myla, around in a pram through Central Park before returning to his Open preparations.

The Swiss world number one certainly earned his down time, tuning up his game over the last fortnight with a Montreal quarter-final -- his first event since winning Wimbledon -- and lifting a third trophy last weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio.

It was all part of the plan for Federer, who travelled with wife Mirka and their infants to North American just two weeks after the girls were born. "I'm happy I was able actually to also come to Montreal," said Federer, holder of 61 career titles including a record 15 Grand Slams. "I got the muscle pain out there and got used to hitting big serves again."

With his glandular fever of 2008 and his back problems now just fading memories, the top seed will be ready to aim for a sixth straight New York title. "I have no back problem and pain, so that allows me again to play freely and focus on the way I want to play and not the way I have to hit the shot," Federer said after his Cincinnati trouncing of Novak Djokovic.
"That's a big difference today from a few months ago."

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