World No.1 Novak Djokovic is the red-hot favourite to continue his stranglehold on the Australian Open, but Roger Federer says rankings will count for little at the business end of the season-opening grand slam.
Djokovic has won four of the past five Australian Opens – five in total – and is coming off a stellar 2015 where he reigned at Melbourne Park, Wimbledon, the US Open and was a beaten finalist at Roland Garros.
Third-seeded Federer, world No.2 Andy Murray, fourth-ranked 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and a revitalised Rafael Nadal are once again the main threats to Djokovic’s dominance.
Federer is projected to face Djokovic at the semi-finals and and the Swiss says their respective rankings won’t mean a thing if that tantalising scenario plays out.
“I don’t think Rafa or myself – we personally – look at the rankings very much, check it out all the time or care too much … after being world No.1,” Federer said.
“I understand some people do. It’s helpful in the seedings at times. But for us to lose quarter, semis, finals, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s still a loss because we’re looking at higher goals, Rafa and myself. Same as Novak.
“I still think the same guys are playing very well. But, of course, Novak deserves like a little star next to his name right now because he’s been doing extremely well.”
Federer suffered a shock straight-sets loss to Canadian Milos Raonic in the final of the Brisbane International in the lead-up to the Open.
He later revealed he had been suffering from a bad cold, but allayed fears his illness had overly disrupted his preparation.
“The cough’s gone, the cold’s 90 per cent gone – I’m happy,” he said.
“The last couple days I’ve been able to practice normally. I’m relieved that since Thursday now I’m better.”