Federer’s ill health a false hope for opponents, says Courier


Melbourne : Former world No.1 Jim Courier feels that Swiss champ Roger Federer’s illness has given his opponents false hope and is tipping the defending champion to win a third consecutive Australian Open, the Australian media reported Sunday.

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“He’s giving the other players some hope by coming in a little bit ill. I’m sure they’re pleased to see a little bit of a chink in the armour because he’s been so invincible these last four years,” Courier was quotes as saying by The Sunday Telegraph.

“He’s definitely underdone, he’ll certainly want some relatively routine matches early in the tournament to get his rhythm. But he’s still the clear favourite, there’s no reason to believe otherwise. He’s that good,” he added.

Federer abandoned his regular preparation tournament at Kooyong because of a stomach virus. Apart from a few of exhibition matches with Pete Sampras, he hasn’t played an event since winning the Masters Cup in November.

But Courier predicted Federer had the class to cruise through the early rounds and, with his own impeccable version of Swiss timing, rediscover his touch as the tournament goes on.

Courier, however, expects the “usual suspects” to challenge in 2008 – led by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick.

“I think another player that could be interesting is Andy Murray because he plays a different style of game … there are some guys that can trouble Roger.”

Courier said Hewitt was “always a threat” in Melbourne, and has backed the Australian to re-enter the world’s top 10 this year.

But he doesn’t expect to see drastic changes to Hewitt’s game under new coach Tony Roche.

“He’s never going to beat people off the court with his power,” Courier said. “But he is capable of playing the best tennis in the world in his own style.”