Dubai: Former World No.1 Roger Federer is hoping he can derive inspiration from his recent trip to South Africa and successfully defend his Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open singles crown.
Federer was in South Africa – his mother Lynette is South African – last week to oversee the work being undertaken by his Roger Federer Foundation, which has partnered with the local Read Educational Trust. This aims to educate and empower young children in rural areas and towns.
“It was very important for me to be there. It’s an emotional trip always. It’s motivating, it’s inspiring and I guess I create awareness at the same time. It’s not always about the money but the investment in time and the willingness to do something great in this world,” Federer told media at the customary round-table meeting on Sunday.
“I have to balance things in my life between tennis, family and the foundation. South Africa is always close to me as my mum’s from there and it’s very emotional for me,” he added.
Federer will commence the defence of his singles title on centre court at 7pm today when he faces Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri.
And though Jaziri is not so well-known on the tour — he has been out with an injury since October last year —Federer is taking nothing for granted.
“This is the first time I will play him. I have never played him. He’s a good player. People might think he is a wild card and people may tend to underestimate people like him. But to me, it is a tough draw and it is always tricky as I don’t know his pattern and how he plays,” Federer said.
“So I’ve got to know how he plays first. I am looking forward to it as it is always a big match here in the Middle East and playing someone like him will be tough.
“For me, first rounds always create some pressure and I want to start well. And besides I am the defending champion. So there you go. It is not such a simple match to me,” he added.
This season Federer has already taken a few weeks off and will skip next month’s tournament in Miami into the bargain.
“In the past it was about playing all the while just to keep the momentum going. Now, it is no longer the same for me. I have my priorities now and they are definitely with the family. I am no longer 22 years old when I had to play 25 tournaments in a year,” Federer said.
“I could have missed Miami last year, but I went there at the last moment. This year I am definitely missing Miami so that I can get some more time on the clay and prepare myself better,” he explained.