Roger Federer feeling 'confident' ahead of Australian Open title defence
Defending champion and world No 3 expects to be in contention over the next two weeks at Melbourne Park
Roger Federer has warned his rivals that he is feeling "confident" ahead of the Australian Open as the Swiss superstar aims for a third successive title in Melbourne.
Federer, 37, won the most recent of his 20 grand slams at the Australian Open last year, successfully defending the title he won in 2017 - which he achieved having been sidelined for the second half of the 2016 season with a knee injury.
Preparations for the 2019 tournament have been seamless, however, after guiding Switzerland to a defence of the Hopman Cup by winning all of his singles matches, which included thrashing world No 4 Alexander Zverev in the final.
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"I'm playing good tennis. I'm confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me," said the third seed, who begins his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in Monday's night match on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, 37, revealed he enjoyed a successful break coming into the new season, and he arrives in Melbourne ready for the year's first grand slam.
"Throughout my career, I've been very lucky that in the off-seasons I never had any setbacks," he said. "What I can say is the off-season was great for me.
"I think maybe it showed a little bit at the Hopman Cup already. Again, look, I'm playing tomorrow. We'll see how it's going to be here in Melbourne."
Federer's first-round opponent Istomin caused a massive upset in Melbourne two years ago when he knocked out defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round, outlasting the Serb over five sets.
"I think the focus really is on those early rounds, especially tomorrow," said Federer, who defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic in last year's final.
"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," added Federer, who has won all six previous encounters against Istomin.
"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."
Updated: January 13, 2019 04:00 PM