PARIS, June 6, 2011 (AFP) - Roger Federer believes his run into the final of the French Open and the way he defied Rafael Nadal proves that he is on the right track to add to his record haul of 16 Grand Slam titles.
The Swiss star went down 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-1, his fourth consecutive loss to the Spaniard in a Roland Garros final.
|AFP - Rafael Nadal (R) and Roger Federer pose with their trophies after their men's final in the French Open tennis championship|
But it ran in stark contrast to the last time the two played here in 2008 when Federer won only four games in what was one of the heaviest defeats of his career.
"I've been confident for almost a year now," he said after his loss to Nadal.
"I think I lost some confidence maybe through the French Open and Wimbledon last year, but I was in the final of Halle as well in this period, so I didn't feel like I was running after confidence.
"It was just important to get to another Grand Slam final, keep on playing well. I'm feeling better physically than I have in a long time, so that's been very positive."
Federer said he probably played his best match against Nadal at Roland Garros and was only disappointed that he had made some bad mistakes on important points such as the drop shot he missed which would have given him the first set 6-2.
That allowed Nadal to claw his way back into a final he had started poorly and he ran off five games in a row to take the first set.
He was never behind in the match after that.
"I had many break points, many opportunities to hit the ball and to finish," Federer said.
"But it's normal. It's how Rafa wins the points. He likes the rallies. I'm not too sad because I've played a good match. I was almost on the brink of winning the match, so I'm disappointed, but not too much."
The priority now, he continued was to turn his focus fully on Wimbledon and his bid to regain, from Nadal, the title that means the most to him.
Having lost last year at the quarter-final stage to Tomas Berdych, the Swiss star feels that he has a point to prove.
"That's obviously the huge priority right now, to win Wimbledon in a few weeks' time," he said.
"That's always, for me, the number one goal in the season.
"This is where it all started for me back in 2003; or even with Sampras earlier in '01. So that's why I always really enjoy coming back.
"I told people that we should wait six months after the Australian Open when people thought Rafa and me were done.
"Now we're back in the finals and now it's different talk again. I don't even go there, because I knew it wasn't the case."
On his preparations for the grass, Federer said he had yet to make up his mind whether to follow his usual tradition of playing on the surface at the Halle tournament in Germany next week.