Dubai: Rejuvenated Roger Federer believes that staying healthy will keep him competitive in his 31st year and more than a match for the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Federer, who has now won five of the last seven ATP tournaments despite being widely written off for large parts of 2011, clinched his fifth Dubai Open title on Saturday with a confident 7-5, 6-4 win over Andy Murray.
It was the Swiss star's 72nd title of a career which has also yielded a record 16 Grand Slam victories.
"Health clearly has to be there with the amount of matches I've played, because I've played a full schedule. I played a lot of tennis," said Federer, whose recent renaissance was kick-started at the end of last year.
That was when he collected titles in Basel, Paris as well as the year-ending World Tour Finals.
This year has seen him collect the Rotterdam and Dubai titles on the back of a run to the Australian Open semi-finals.
"I think the six weeks I took off after Davis Cup and the US Open was necessary if I wanted to play that much and be that successful. So that was a good decision.
"Obviously I'm still sad I didn't go Shanghai last year because it's such a wonderful tournament. In hindsight, maybe it was the right thing to do."
"I think I was just confident. I was playing aggressive. I didn't doubt my ability. I'm defending much better than maybe I was in the middle of last year where I felt like I couldn't come out of tough defensive positions anymore.
"It started midway through the French Open and then through Wimbledon, even though I ended up losing. But I felt like my game was very good. That's proved I was heading in the right direction. Now just have to keep it up."
Murray, who still holds an 8-7 career record over Federer, believes that the Swiss star would still comfortably be world number one if more tournaments were played on faster courts like Dubai.
"I think that the indoor season and the surfaces like this one, I mean, if there was more tournaments on these courts, I think he could definitely be No. 1 in the world for the next few years," said Murray.
"It really suits his game well. It's just that so many of the courts are so slow now. Some are so slow it's tough against so many guys that are moving well and serving big.
"It's tougher and tougher to stay at the top of the game longer I think."