Roger Federer's 2009 began as his 2008 ended, with defeat to Andy Murray, but the former world No 1 believes he can dominate again this year.
"For various reasons I'm under less pressure," Federer said in Doha yesterday on the eve of his first-round match against Italy's Potito Starace in the Qatar Open. "I've worked hard at my game and when you do that, things become easy for you. If I can play two good matches here then I'll feel really good going into the Australian Open."
Federer shrugged off his defeat to Murray last week, pointing out that he had been experimenting with his game. "I tried out many new things in Abu Dhabi – volleying, charging to the net and playing defensively," he said. "Since it was an exhibition event I could do it."
Federer is seeded to meet Murray in the semi-finals in Doha. The Scot was on court in Doha yesterday partnering Davis Cup colleague Ross Hutchins. They were beaten 7-5, 6-4 by the Germans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Christopher Cas.