Federer heads to Shanghai fresh off 4-week break

Roger Federer isn’t worried about rankings as he heads into the Shanghai Masters after a four-week break.

The third-ranked Swiss says he has been working to improve himself physically and mentally during his time away from competition, which he said was more important than a top ranking.

”I’m a strong believer that when I’m at my best I can beat anyone,” Federer told reporters in Hong Kong on Thursday. ”But there’s many guys around right now playing really, really well and Rafael (Nadal) being the No. 1 guy is a tough guy to beat.”

Federer said Nadal deserved his top ranking after winning at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open this year. However, Federer has won a record 16 Grand Slam tournaments, including this year’s Australian Open.

”Obviously he’s a stronger player today than a few years ago but the same counts for me. Even though the ranking has slipped maybe a little bit, I’ve only had time to improve as well and become physically stronger, mentally stronger as a player,” Federer said.

He predicted that the Shanghai Masters, which starts on Sunday, will come down to the top eight players, with Britain’s Andy Murray and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in particular expected to do well.

For now, Federer said he’s happy to be healthy and looking forward to the future, including the 2012 London Olympics. He won gold in doubles at the Beijing Olympics two years ago, but lost in the singles quarterfinals to American James Blake.

”Obviously, I’d love to win at the Olympics in London in 2012 … but then again you never know what’s going to happen in such a long time,” he said. ”So at the moment it’s not the focus, but I would definitely love to take part in it and will try everything I can not to be injured for that huge event.”