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Roger Federer on 'bonus' time

updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roger Federer says he has been on a "bonus trip for a long, long time"
  • Federer still has drive but insists if his career ended tomorrow he would be "very happy"
  • Andy Murray offers no guarantees that he will play at next year's Australian Open
  • World No. 1 Rafael Nadal pulls out of the Basel Indoors in Switzerland as a precaution

(CNN) -- Most of Roger Federer's career has been free of turmoil.

The talented Swiss has collected a men's record 17 majors, his all-court game and flawless footwork overcoming rivals with ease.

From 2004 to 2007, he won 11 of a possible 16 grand slam titles. His record of consecutive semifinals at majors might never be broken and, if Federer plays in January's Australian Open, he'll take part in a 57th consecutive grand slam event. That would be another men's record.

You'd need a book to list all of his achievements.

But 2013 has been challenging, not entirely surprising since Federer turned 32 in August and must contend with the younger trio of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

He slipped to seventh in the world rankings, didn't appear in a grand slam final for the first time since 2002 and is in danger of missing out on the year-end championships next month in London.

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How does Federer view his skid? With a fair dose of perspective.

Racking up all those titles earlier in his career has left him feeling that he's now on "bonus" time.

"I knew those wins nobody could take away from me," Federer told CNN. "That's sort of in the vault, good to have and good to know.

"And now you just have to prove yourself every single day and everything that comes is like a bonus. I've been on this bonus trip for a long, long time and playing this way has actually been much more enjoyable."

Does it mean that Federer will settle for not winning another major? Probably not.

His decision to cut ties with coach Paul Annacone last week suggests he's still hungry for more.

Indeed motivation has never been an issue for Federer, even when he and wife Mirka had twin girls.

"I definitely have that drive," he said.

But Federer does admit that the questions asked about his recent slide have slightly taken away from his enjoyment of the game.

"The fun goes away sometimes because instead of it being a lifelong dream you've had to just enjoy yourself and play tennis like your heroes used to, now people sort of expect you to win," Federer said.

"Like losing in the quarterfinals ... now is (seen as) a disaster. It changes the mindset of you as a player and as a professional athlete and that's where I always try to remember, 'Well, as long as I enjoy what I'm doing, I train hard, I have no regrets.'

"All I can do is give my best and it's going to be fine regardless of the outcome."

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Murray, recovering from back surgery, told reporters that he would only compete at the Australian Open in January if he was fully fit.

He has rehabilitated in the pool and on a bike but will wait until four or five weeks to hit balls on a tennis court. As such, he won't play at the year-end championships on home soil.

"The rehab process is pretty tedious and long and I don't want to come back too soon and have to start that process all over again," Wimbledon champion Murray, who received a royal honor at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, said. "I'll only come back when I'm 100% fit and I hope that's at the beginning of the year."

Nadal, meanwhile, pulled out of next week's Swiss Indoors in Basel due to fatigue.

"After very exhausting weeks I have to regroup my fitness and my body," the world No. 1 posted on his Facebook page. "I will do my best to come back to the Swiss Indoors next year."

Nadal's remaining tournaments this year are the Paris Masters and year-end championships, two events he has never won.

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