Federer healthy, ready to play

HOUSTON -- Roger Federer is back in Andy Roddick's home
state, trying to put the finishing touches on a dominant season in
men's tennis.
Federer will be the favorite going into the ATP Masters Cup at
Westside Tennis Club that starts Monday. Roddick, the former No. 1,
will be his primary pursuer when the top eight players in the world
meet in the final ATP event of the season.
With an 8-1 career record against Roddick, Federer wants to
maintain his mastery of the top American -- who lives a three-hour
drive away in Austin.
"Remember, our careers are only at the beginning," Federer
said. "I try not to be superstitious. If I practice well, it
doesn't mean I'll have a good match, and if I practice badly it
doesn't mean I'll have a bad match. There are no signs."
There is no reason for Federer, 23, to lack confidence. He's
ranked No. 1 in the world after winning 10 tournaments -- including
three Grand Slams -- this year. He has been slowed recently by a
pulled thigh muscle, but after a lengthy workout this week Federer
pronounced himself in good shape.
Federer's ascent to the top of the world rankings started with a
victory over Roddick at last year's Masters Cup tournament at
Westside when Roddick was ranked No. 1.
"Wimbledon was my proudest moment this year," Federer said.
"The principle goal in 2005 is to be No. 1."
The Masters Cup format includes four players each in red and
blue groups playing a round robin to reach the semifinals on Nov.
20, with the championship match the following day.
Federer is seeded atop the blue group, which also includes
former U.S. Open champion Marat Safin, Guillermo Coria and Tim
Henman. Roddick leads the red group that also includes two-time
Masters Cup champion Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and French Open
champion Gaston Gaudio.
Roddick has been a favorite at Westside Tennis Club since he was
a tour rookie and won the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship there
in 2001. Roddick beat Pete Sampras for the clay-court title in 2002
and has been runner-up the past two years.
Hewitt, formerly ranked No. 1 in the world, has won four ATP
titles this season and would love to finish the year with a victory
over Federer -- who eliminated Hewitt in the Australian Open,
Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year.