Roger Federer couldn’t be happier with his lead up to the Australian Open, despite losing to German teenager Alexander Zverev on Wednesday night. The former world No.1, is returning from six months on the sidelines following ankle and back injuries and believes his preparation for the opening grand slam of 2017 couldn’t be any better.The 17-time grand slam winner is in Perth playing the mixed team Hopman Cup tournament. He’s played two matches, beating Dan Evans of Great Britain 6-3 6-4, before losing to 19-year-old Zverev in three sets, 7-6 6-7 7-6. Federer is currently ranked 16 in the world and for the first time since 2003 will enter the Australian Open with a seeding in double figures, which he said will make the draw interesting viewing. He has some work to do before January 16 though. He led Zverev 5-2 in the opening set in Perth on Wednesday night and lost it. He then dropped the tie-breaker 7-1. “Who really cares,” the 35-year-old said. “As long as I am playing injury free and feeling good. I actually pulled up really good after the first match and the mixed, the next day, so this one will feel different. “I’ll feel muscle pain, which is also one of the reasons why I came here, to have that pain in my body, so hopefully if I do have a tough match at the beginning in Melbourne I don’t have to go through it as extreme over there. “I’m very happy. I have played five good sets so far. I am very pleased.” Federer’s final match of the round robin event is against Richard Gasquet of France, ranked 18 in the world, on Friday night. And if things go well, he’ll then play the USA’s Jack Sock in the final on Saturday night. Time on court is why Federer chose to play in Perth to start his Australian summer. “I think (Zverev and I) did very well, over a long period of time and that at the beginning of the season is not easy to do,” he said after Wednesday’s loss.”It was good to play 2.5 hours. It is a great number to compete in, which is why I was really pushing to win the second set, to extend the match and get me into a tough, long match.”
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