Looking straight ahead

HALLE - Roger Federer, pictured, admitted yesterday he was happy to see the back of the clay court season after his shock French Open quarter-final defeat to Robin Soderling at Roland Garros.

HALLE - Roger Federer, pictured, admitted yesterday he was happy to see the back of the clay court season after his shock French Open quarter-final defeat to Robin Soderling at Roland Garros.

Federer added he was delighted to return to the grass courts of Halle as he starts his campaign to win a seventh Wimbledon title.

"I am happy not to have to listen to any more questions about clay courts and my form on clay," said the Swiss.

Federer's defeat to Soderling could see him also lose this Number One spot to Rafael Nadal, if the latter beats Soderling in the final.

But the Swiss star was concentrating on the positives even signing a permanent agreement to play at the Halle grasscourt tournament.

"My aim is to be at the top come the end of the year," Federer told the Halle official website.

He added: "I am delighted (to sign the Halle agreement). It feels a bit like I am getting married. I wanted to plan more long-term. I want to build up friendships and I get on really well with Ralf and Gerhard Weber." "Halle has always been a really important tournament in my career. I have always been happy here, played successfully and gained momentum going into Wimbledon. Therefore, I would also like to continue this partnership." Federer, who has won this tournament five times, opens his latest Halle campaign against experienced Finnish left-hander Jarkko Nieminen tomorrow. - Sapa-AFP

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