Roger Federer said his age helps take the pressure off as he heads into the Australian Open tipped to win.
The Swiss five-time champion won his first major title for five years with a stunning run in Melbourne last year.
And with rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on their way back from injury, and Briton Andy Murray absent, Federer remains the man to beat.
“I play down my chances just because I don’t think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament,” he said. “It should not be the case. That’s why I see things more relaxed at a later stage of my career,” added the world number two, who is looking to win a 20th Grand Slam title.
“I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he’s had, and Novak, with the six titles he’s had here, even if it’s unknown how he’s feeling, they could very well be the favourites too.”
Federer will begin his 20th Australian Open campaign on Tuesday against world number 51 Aljaz Bedene, the former Briton who returned to playing under the Slovenian flag on 1 January.
Asked about the seeming glut of injuries at the top of the men’s game, with fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka another whose participation was in doubt and Kei Nishikori of Japan absent with a wrist injury, Federer put it down mainly to “coincidence”.
“The players and their trainers and the tour and everybody should try their very best to make sure they can avoid injuries,” he added.
“Is that by playing less? Is that by training different? Is that by playing a different schedule? Whose responsibility is it at the end of the day?
“I think it’s the players. Sometimes you do get unlucky. Like a soccer team, sometimes you have seasons where more guys are hurt than others.”
Federer himself came into last year’s tournament off the back of a six-month injury lay-off, making his eventual triumph all the more remarkable.
He went on to add an eighth Wimbledon title later in the year and returned to second in the rankings, behind only Spaniard Nadal.
“Last year was more of a ‘let’s see what happens’ kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan or others are going through this year,” said Federer.