Reflecting on the career resurgence that he has had in 2017, Roger Federer claims he is having a great time as a tennis player right now.
Having returned from a knee injury earlier this year, the former world number one shocked the world when he went all the way in Melbourne and won the 2017 Australian Open.
Having defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the final, the victory was Federer's first Grand Slam win since 2012.
"Ah, s**t, it's all happening again," Federer told ESPN as he recalled being down 3-1 in the final set. "I recall saying, 'You have to try to break now, pal, because later on he is going to stay in the lead and have the break, and then too much luck is involved to turn the whole thing around.'"
"Oh, s**t, he's got me at the finish line. I told myself, 'I've done very little wrong. I've played committed. I've played bigger with my backhand than I ever have against Rafa. I've hit a lot of backhand winners.'"
The Swiss ace then proceeded to have the best 20 minutes of his life as he won the next five games in a row, feeding on the energy of the crowd who did not expect a 35-year-old returning from injury to be in a final in the first place.
"[I had] A different mindset," Federer added. "I had the best 20 minutes of my life, maybe, on the tennis court. I just zoned in and just went [mimics jet taking off]...What I was telling myself is 'Play free, don't feel like you're in a straitjacket. Feel like you have nothing to lose, maybe for one of the first times.'"
Since the win in Melbourne, Federer has gone on to win titles in Indian Wells and in Miami as he carefully plans his schedule this year, recently deciding to skip the entire clay-court season to focus on Wimbledon in July.
"I'm having a great time," he explained. "A fantastic time, really. I can just play the tournaments I want to play and enjoy the process."
"If I do show up and play, I love it. When I'm in training, I enjoy being in training. When I'm not in training, if I'm on vacation, I can enjoy that. I'm not in a rush. So I can take a step back and just actually enjoy."
Turning 36 later this year, the future is not so certain for the 18-time Grand Slam champion. However, Federer believes the next few years could be exciting if managed right.
"I think if I find the right balance, it could be quite exciting," he revealed. "I will play until 40 [laughs], just maybe not on the tour. At this point of my career, I will be more laid-back."