Federer trusts himself to thrive past age 30

By Larry Fine

Federer will spend his birthday on Monday in Montreal at the Rogers Cup tournament, where adoring fans have serenaded him in the past to mark the occasion.

"I'm looking forward to turning 30, excited to see how the Canadians are going to celebrate my birthday this time around, because sometimes they start singing 'Happy Birthday' during my match," Federer told reporters during a conference call.

Federer said the milestone birthday would not move him to take stock of his career and his future.

"Birthdays, they happen. They are a part of life. I'm happy I'm getting older," added Federer, who is married and the father of twin girls. "I'd rather be 30 than 20 to be quite honest. This is, to me, a nice time."

Federer said he still loves the game, the lifestyle and the challenge as he ramps up his preparation for this month's U.S. Open, which he won five times in a row from 2004.

What has changed, is his frequency of winning.

Federer, who once reigned a record 237 successive weeks as world number one and enjoyed the top perch for a total of more than five years overall, has slipped to number three behind Australian Open and Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal, the French Open champion.

Federer is 1-3 this year against Djokovic and 0-3 versus Nadal, and his last grand slam triumph came at the 2010 Australian Open.

"In the preparation, nothing changes," said Federer.

Federer is happiest, of course, when he is winning.

"I've won so much that you feel like if you put yourself in the right position and you do all the right things you'll definitely get a shot of winning big tournaments," he said.

Federer said he draws inspiration from tennis greats who enjoyed longevity.

"Like (Andre) Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, it's very inspiring to see what they were able to do for a very long period of time.

"My planning has always been long term. I'm looking forward to how much more I can achieve from this point on."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)