Record chase can motivate Federer but wins matter most

New York (AFP) –

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Roger Federer takes motivation from shattering records, but winning matters most for the 38-year-old Swiss star as he chases his 21st Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Five-time US Open champion Federer stretched his record for Grand Slam Open era quarter-finals appearances to 56 on Sunday by overwhelming Belgian 15th seed David Goffin 6-2 6-2, 6-0 in only 79 minutes.

"It's definitely very special to be playing for these records," Federer said. "Being in my 56th quarters now of a Slam is definitely a nice feeling.

"That was obviously the initial goal here at this tournament, try to make it so far, so yeah, I think I use it at the right times for motivation, I guess. That's how far it goes.

"It has helped me at times. At the same time I always try to remind myself it's just a side story. What happened on the court today was more important."

Federer's 13th appearance in the US Open quarter-finals, four shy of the record 17 by Jimmy Connors, will come Tuesday against 78th-ranked Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

Records have also proven troublesome to Federer, such as in 2009 when he won the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam and match Pete Sampras for the all-time Slam title mark, which Federer broke by winning his 15th Slam title a month later at Wimbledon.

And then there was 2017, when Federer won a record eighth Wimbledon men's crown, shattering the mark set by Bjorn Borg.

"Sometimes they've definitely motivated me. Sometimes they've pushed me. Sometimes they also created so much pressure it was almost not funny any more to some extent," Federer said.

"I'm complaining on a very high level now, when you're trying to go for your fifth Wimbledon, trying to break the all-time Grand Slam record, and Pete is sitting there or Borg sitting there, and you're like, 'Oh, my God, what are they going to be thinking?'"

After the grind of 20 years playing Grand Slam events, the record Federer really wants to rewrite is his unmatched 20 men's Slam titles. Picking up his first US Open crown since 2008 is the mark he's chasing most in New York.

"You need to be successful, you need to love what you're doing, find a way to really keep yourself entertained," Federer said.

- 'It's quite exciting' -

He sees much the same for 37-year-old Serena Williams, who won her first Slam title at the 1999 US Open. She is chasing a 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open to match the all-time record won by Margaret Court.

"Success has played a big part in Serena's and my career, for sure," Federer said. "Maybe traveling and only winning 50 percent of the matches on tour, then maybe also we wouldn't be playing any more.

"But because we know we can still beat the best, win the biggest tournaments, it's so worthwhile to stay there and see if you can go back to these emotions, see if you can do it at a later stage in your career, and be a totally different person almost, a different player sort of 20 years later -- it's quite exciting actually."