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Federer eyes return to world No. 1

ESPN staff
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Roger Federer believes he can return to No. 1 © PA Photos
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Roger Federer has not given up on returning to the top of the world rankings, despite the recent dominance of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

The world No. 3 has not been top of the pile since he was deposed by Nadal in June 2010, agonisingly one week short of equalling Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks at No. 1.

Federer claimed his first title of 2012 in Rotterdam a week ago, and despite having failed to win a grand slam in over two years, he remains optimistic he can surpass Sampras' milestone.

"I'm a believer that if I do things the right way it will come back. I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I'll get back to it and break the record," Federer said.

"I feel like if I play really well from here till the US Open obviously there's a shot. But then there's a shot for probably 10 players to do that. I feel like I'm on a good run right now. I've won a lot of tournaments in a short period of time, which obviously gives me a lot of confidence."

Federer will be looking to continue his unbeaten streak at the Dubai Tennis Championships this week, where he is seeded second behind three-time defending champion Djokovic. He faces a tricky first-round opponent in the shape of Michael Llodra, but is happy about his current form and is eyeing a fifth title (although his first since 2007) in Dubai.

"I feel good. The week in between Rotterdam and Dubai was very helpful because I did play a lot of tennis already," Federer said. "I've physically recovered again, feel good about my game and I'm really excited about playing here in Dubai.

"It's a tough draw and [Llodra] played well in Marseille, so he'll be coming in with confidence, which is always a tough position. It's such a strong tournament. It's tough conditions here; it's always pretty quick. I've struggled early on in the tournaments here in the past. I hope that this time around it's going to be a good tournament for me.

"I've already won it four times, so you kind of draw out of that and hope you can do it again. Five [titles] would be amazing, but the competition is really tough."

Federer is on course for a rematch with Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals. The Swiss beat the world No. 10 in Rotterdam, but the Argentine is in impressive form, having won the Open 13 in Marseille on Sunday.

Men's rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Rafael Nadal (SPA), 3. Roger Federer (SWI), 4. Andy Murray (GBR), 5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), 6. David Ferrer (SPA), 7. Tomas Berdych (CZE), 8. Mardy Fish (USA), 9. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB), 10. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)

Women's rankings: 1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), 2. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 3. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 4. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN), 5. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 6. Sam Stosur (AUS), 7. Marion Bartoli (FRA), 8. Li Na (CHN), 9. Vera Zvonareva (RUS), 10. Andrea Petkovic (GER)

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