Roger Federer played down retirement talk after appearing to suggest he was considering ending his career.
Federer, 37, looked in fine form in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 thrashing of Yoshihito Nishioka in the U.S. Open first round on Tuesday.
But the Swiss maestro, who made it 18 wins in as many first-round matches at the major, threatened to overshadow his own victory when he mentioned retirement unprompted in an on-court interview.
“I’m very happy to be back in New York healthy, last couple of years have been difficult so it’s nice to be back, feeling really good,” Federer said.
“I’m happy I’ve never stumbled at the first hurdle, almost time to retire but not yet, so I’m happy I played well tonight.”
It’s that time of year again…
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However, Federer, who produced 56 winners in his victory, dismissed his comments as a joke.
“That was meaning like I never lost a first-round match here at the Open. I won all my 18. You don’t want that [loss] to happen next year,” he said.
“I said maybe I could retire now, because I protect my 18 first-round wins here. That’s what I meant with it. It’s a total joke, yes.
“So please don’t read into it. Don’t even write that word.”
Federer will face Frenchman Benoit Paire in the second round.