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August 19, 2009

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Federer plays down Murray's US Open chances

ROGER Federer played down Andy Murray's elevation to the world No. 2 on Monday, saying the Scot would merely be one of many contenders for his US Open title next month.

The world No. 1 steps up his preparations at the Cincinnati Open this week, looking to hone his game before he bids to win his sixth consecutive US Open title and claim a record 16th grand slam crown.

Murray lost to Federer in the final in New York last year but the Swiss said there were plenty of other players who could be just as dangerous.

"If you look at last week's draw (in Montreal), so many guys are very equal, I think, right now," Federer told reporters in Cincinnati.

"The final was close, for instance. I think there are many guys who are beating each other right now so it's quite an interesting dynamic.

"We all know Rafa (Nadal) was injured, so he couldn't put in the fight he wished to concerning the rankings. Now he's back, I'm back playing again after a few weeks. Everybody seems healthy again, and that can only be a good thing for the rest of the season.

"I'm sure Nadal will bounce back strong if he's really fit and healthy."

Murray, who won the Montreal Masters on Sunday, leapfrogged Nadal to become the first Briton to be ranked No. 2. Federer admitted that the 22-year-old had become a force on hard courts through his results in the past 12 months.

"I think (Murray) announced himself when he won here last year," Federer said. "From then on he had an unbelievable run, especially on the hard courts. He's almost won everything there is to win... he's done really well so it doesn't come as a surprise to many people now."

In Federer's first event since winning Wimbledon, he was beaten in the quarterfinals in Montreal by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga having led 5-1 in the final set.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old said he was happy with his game, even if he will not be putting too much pressure on himself to do well this week. "It would be good (to do well), but it's not crucial," he said.


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