Toronto, Aug 9 (DPA): Roger Federer celebrated his 29th birthday Sunday with a tournament cake as the two-time champion prepared for a second-round start at the Toronto Masters.
The world number three is sitting on his lowest ATP ranking since late 2003, when he went into the season-ending Masters Cup in Houston third in the world. Federer showed how little the number meant as he won the event seven years ago, beating Andre Agassi in both group play and the final.
That performance moved him to second, prior to taking the number one ranking at the start of the 2004 season.
Federer had to duck inside due to rain for a cake presented Sunday by the tournament, which he won in 2004 and 2006.
"It's a great feeling to be celebrating my birthday with my family here in Canada. I am excited to compete again these days, after having spent several weeks preparing intensely for the second half of the 2010 season," Federer told his website.
He noted to loyal fans that "your kind messages and wonderful gifts" have been arriving. "This really motivates me as I can see how much my passion for tennis also means to you," he said. "I would like to thank you all for your loyalty over all these years - let's hope for many more to come!"
Federer, whose only title this season came at the Australian Open where he beat Andy Murray, needs to reignite his game after going out as holder in the quarter-final stages at both the French Open and Wimbledon.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion recently took on American Paul Annacone in a coaching trial run, with designs obviously set on the US Open, where Federer suffered a five-set finals loss a year ago against Juan Del Potro.
Defending champion Andy Murray hints that he's managed to put aside his finals loss a week ago in Los Angeles, where he had reached a match point against Sam Querrey, and looks forward to the challenge in Canada.
"When you come back to where you played well, you tend to play well again," said the fourth seed. "I feel confident."
Murray called this year's draw "very tough ... perhaps even more than last year" with two-time French Open finalist Robin Sodering and Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych coming in playing well.
"I've done a lot of fitness training. That always gives me a mental edge. I feel confident going into matches when I'm fit. I deserve to be at the top of the game and beating the best players," the Scot said.
"A Wimbledon semi-final is not bad. I felt I played well there after a few poor months after the Australian Open."
Top seed and world number one Rafael Nadal is not due to play until Wednesday, with the bye given to the top eight seeds.
The Spaniard took part in the Friday draw ceremony atop a towering skyscraper, then was given a helicopter lift back to the courts.
Nadal will play doubles with number two Novak Djokovic in an historic pairing, with the ATP confirming that the world's top two have not teamed since Jimmy Connors and the late Arthur Ashe played together 34 years ago.