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Federer playing with rookie spirit

Updated: March 23, 2012, 10:19 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

Last Saturday, after he had flogged Rafael Nadal in the semifinals at Indian Wells, Roger Federer -- the hottest tennis player on the planet for the past six months -- was asked if he was back.

Federer looked a bit perplexed.

"Don't forget that I beat him in London not that long ago, only three months ago," said Federer, who defends his résumé better than any overzealous publicist could. "It's not like I haven't beat him in 10 years."

Federer, smiling as he ...

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