Federer to decide on playing in Dubai Tennis Championships next week
Roger Federer kisses the Australian Open trophy in Melbourne on Monday (AP)
Dubai - He is refusing to rule himself out of an event he has won seven times in the past
By Rituraj Borkakoty
Published: Mon 29 Jan 2018, 7:42 PM
Last updated: Tue 30 Jan 2018, 1:46 PM
The most revered athlete in the world is likely to set foot in Dubai - a city that holds a special place in his heart.
Dubai will indeed be on Roger Federer's mind when the tennis maestro spends time with his family in the Swiss Alps next week, savouring his historic 20th Grand Slam title that he won after a riveting battle with Marin Cilic at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 36-year-old player hasn't entered the next month's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships yet, but he is refusing to rule himself out of an event he has won seven times in the past.
The secret to the veteran star's phenomenal success in 2017 was the way he managed his schedule as he completely avoided the clay-court tournaments, including the French Open.
Now after becoming the third oldest man to win a major championship in Melbourne, the world number two is likely to avoid the clay-court season again as he aims to keep himself in best shape to vie for the Wimbledon and US Open titles.
The six-time Australian Open champion's next tournaments are in Indian Wells and Miami in March, but he is now looking at the possibility of playing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month.
A good run here in Dubai could help him dethrone old rival Rafael Nadal from the top position in ATP rankings.
"We were in talks with them (Dubai organisers) but when the (Australian Open) tournament started, I just said 'look, if it's okay, I'd like to decide after the tournament'," Federer was quoted as saying by Reuters on Monday.
"That's an ideal scenario for me. After the tournament, I'll know how I feel... did I come out injured or not?
"So now we know what the situation is. It's possible I'll play in Dubai but it's also possible that maybe I just don't play anything. It depends on how the next week or so goes. Then I'll make a decision," Federer said on Monday.
Nadal, who was forced to retire in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal clash with Cilic with a hip injury, leads Federer by only 155 points in ATP rankings. The Spaniard is hoping to make a comeback in the next month's Acapulco tournament in Mexico.
If Federer decides to play in Dubai, he will be gunning for that number one ranking. The eight-time Wimbledon champion last held that position in 2012. If he reaches the top again, he will become the oldest man in tennis to achieve that.
And, Dubai will be the perfect place for the Swiss to challenge Nadal for the ATP supremacy. After all, it's a venue where he took his first steps towards sporting immortality. In fact, the first of his seven Dubai victories came in March 2003. Few months later, he went on to win the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles in Wimbledon.
Salah Tahlak, the tournament director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, congratulated the Swiss genius on his Australian Open triumph.
"We are delighted to see Roger Federer win a historic 20th Grand Slam in Australia and congratulate him on his efforts. Roger has indicated that he will make a decision in the near future about his upcoming schedule. We wish him all the best," Tahlak told Khaleej Times on Monday.
Meanwhile, the ageless Federer said on Monday that he would return to defend his Australian Open title next year.
"I know I forgot to say that after the match. But I hope I come back again next year," Federer was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"I can't believe I was able to defend my title after all these years. It's super special."
A return to the top of the ATP rankings with another successful run in Dubai will be super special as well for Roger Federer!