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Monday, February 1, 2010
Federer: Fatherhood 'enhances' success

Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Roger Federer stayed up all night, drinking champagne with friends and returned to his hotel room as the sun rose to cap the celebration of his Australian Open victory by holding one of his baby girls in his arms.

Looking remarkably refreshed Monday after a couple of hours sleep, Federer said that winning his 16th Grand Slam title was different from the past 15. He's now married with six-month-old twins and everything -- including his tennis -- feels more meaningful.

"I'm excited about life, and there is not only tennis," Federer said the day after defeating Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) to win his fifth Australian Open.

"Having kids and being a father now and being married enhances everything," he said, tanned and relaxed in jeans and a gray T-shirt. "I'm such a happy person today to see how well everything is working out for me. It just makes me extremely happy, extremely relaxed and it allows me to play good tennis, and I couldn't ask for more."

By Federer's own accounting he played some of the best tennis of his career in the past two weeks, particularly in the final against Murray, who dashed Britain's hopes of winning the first men's Grand Slam title since 1936.

And that was just the beginning of his night. Federer is a gifted and willing orator off the court and held more than two hours of news conferences in English, French and Swiss German, which lasted until 1:30 a.m.

He then headed back to his hotel and was joined by an entourage of 30 or 40 people.

"We stayed at the hotel -- had a nice DJ, bar, restaurant, it was a good atmosphere. It was nice," said the 28-year-old Swiss star, who is known for his discipline. "We went to have some drinks, have some dinner, celebrate the victory but more or less hang out."

Federer's drink of choice?

"Champagne, obviously."

He doesn't remember what time he went to bed.

"When's sunrise here? Six or 7 o'clock?"

One of the twins, Myla, was awake when he got back.

"That was nice," he said, smiling. "I quickly was able to see her, even though she's got obviously no clue what's happened. She couldn't care less, but I still felt it was a special moment to hold her in my hands, in my arm after what happened, and it was nice. I read the papers here in Australia and went to bed, extremely tired."

Even after all these years as a champion, Federer says he remains energetic about tennis. He said he's not tempted at this point to take an extended break and then comeback, as did Belgian women Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin -- runner-up this year.

"I don't think that's realistic or feasible for me. I think I'd just say maybe take a few months off but that doesn't mean take a half a season off. I just think it's too tough to come back after that. I don't know, the men's game is different I think. It's brutal. The margins are so small."

From the start, Federer says he has been mindful about keeping a good balance between life and work.

"I feel like I've always had a good distance from the game," he said. "You don't want to feel like you have to play tennis, because it's something that was an opportunity, and now that I have it I want to savor it as long as I can."

So far, juggling tennis and family has been easy. His wife, Mirka, and the twins, Myla and Charlene, travel with him and Federer says he hasn't spent a night apart from the babies since they were born July 29.

Reflecting back to his first Australian Open win in 2004, Federer says he feels fitter now and despite aging feels free of the post-Grand Slam aches and pains he got as a younger player.

"As time goes by and I get a bit older, I start to understand my body a bit more," he said. "I remember in the beginning here in 2004 when I won the first time I couldn't move the next day. I was so tired."

"It's very different now," Federer said. "I'm like wow, it's over. Perfect. What's next?"