ROME (AP) – Roger Federer has refocused on tennis after getting married and then promptly losing to fellow Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 13-time Grand Slam winner spent the last week in intensive training with fitness coach Pierre Paganini, grinding out daily four-hour practice sessions on Italian clay courts.

“I’m expecting big things from myself, especially looking ahead for the French Open,” Federer said Sunday on the eve of the Rome Masters, a key clay-court tuneup for Roland Garros, which begins May 25. “I would like to go extremely far there and create the opportunity to win the one slam I haven’t won yet.

“Monaco for me was just, ‘Let’s see how it goes,”‘ the second-ranked Federer said. “With the wedding before I didn’t have the preparation. … I didn’t expect to win the tournament, so I don’t think we have to look too much into how I played there.

“I was missing serves and missing forehands. That’s what I was trying to tighten up now, in this last week, when I was practicing extremely hard. I hope that this week it’s going to show a little bit.”

Federer entered Monte Carlo immediately after marrying longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec. The straight-set loss to Wawrinka stretched his title drought to seven tournaments.

Federer said he concentrated on his movement with Paganini and had 219th-ranked Stefan Koubek along as a hitting partner.

“The movement part is the big part on clay. The best clay-court players are the ones that move the best,” Federer said, adding that his back troubles are long behind him.

Federer was upset by Radek Stepanek in the Rome quarterfinals last year. He will likely open up against Ivo Karlovic this time if the big-serving Croatian gets by a qualifier.

In the rankings, No. 3 Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Andy Murray are starting to pressure Federer, who has lost contact with top-ranked Rafael Nadal.

“I don’t necessarily need to get to No. 1; I just need to win the French Open,” Federer said. “That’s what my goal is.

“For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 or 10 in the world. For me, it’s either No. 1 or somewhere else. Especially for me, who has been No. 1 for so long and won so many titles,” Federer said. “If you’re not No. 1 then it’s about winning titles and getting back No. 1. That’s the position I’m in now.”

Federer has reached the final twice in Rome, losing to Felix Mantilla in 2003 and to Nadal in a fifth-set tiebreaker in 2006.

AP-ES-04-26-09 1404EDT


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