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At 33, Roger Federer still is driven while playing at elite level

Roger Federer talks to the media at the

Roger Federer talks to the media at the Western & Southern Open at the Lender Family Tennis Center on Aug. 12, 2014 in Cincinnati. Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons

MASON, Ohio - No need for Roger Federer loyalists to be alarmed by the man's advancing age, or to look for any hints that he has had his fill of elite tennis.

"I really don't play for any of those longevity records, to be honest," Federer said. "I play because I love to play. And I believe I can still achieve a lot."

Federer turned 33 Friday, in the midst of advancing to the final of the Toronto tournament (which he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga), then immediately set out for this final big U.S. Open tuneup in suburban Cincinnati.

He remains among the sport's top bananas, a decade after sharing a top-10 ranking with now-retired fellows such as Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, Tim Henman, Carlos Moya and Gaston Gaudio.

Among this decade's ruling quartet in tennis, Federer was the only one to advance as deep as the Toronto semifinals. Rafael Nadal is nursing a wrist injury, and both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray lost to Tsonga before Federer did.

If he wins this tournament, it will be Federer's 80th pro title, and he won't say that can't happen.

"Who knows?" he said.

If he wins a sixth U.S. Open early next month (his last was in 2008), that would extend his record number of major tournament titles to 18.

"You know, as long as you're up there, it's nice," Federer said on the eve of his first-round match here against Canadian Vasek Pospisil. "Doesn't matter who you're compared to. I have the highest respect for all those players and their records, and some are absolutely unreachable. Of course, the talk is interesting, and some things I don't even know about."

He certainly cannot catch Rod Laver's career total of 200 tournament victories. But among male players, Federer already has been to more Grand Slam event finals (25) than anyone else, and more consecutive Slam finals (10). He has played in more major tournaments (59) than anyone else.

He reached last month's Wimbledon final, his first Grand Slam final since his victory in 2012 at Wimbledon.

He already is the leader in most weeks ranked No. 1 (302) and most consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 (237).

"Clearly I think the biggest news we have in the sport," he said, "are probably most titles and most weeks [No. 1] and most Grand Slams. Those are the ones that people usually talk about.

"There is always the youngest and the oldest. It's always going to happen, and that's why I'm saying that some just can't be reached. But as long as you're part of history, I mean, it's really a very nice thing."

Even more pleasant, he said, is to be fully healthy again after back trouble most of last year. With no intention of going away.

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