Roger Federer holds his trophy
Roger Federer holds his trophy after winning the final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece last year Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai has joined the sporting world in wishing Roger Federer a speedy recovery following surgery on his right knee on Thursday.

“Roger is special to Dubai and everyone here is always waiting for him to come and play here at our tournament. For sure, we will be missing him this time, but we all wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him when the grass court season starts later this year,” Dubai Tennis Championships Tournament Director Salah Tahlak told Gulf News.

Tahlak was among the first to get a call from Federer’s agent Tony Godsick and informed about the Swiss legend’s inability to be present in Dubai this year. “At first it was shocking to hear such a horrible thing. But when one considers that this is for the health of a person then we can only wish him all the best. Tony told me that informing us in Dubai was the toughest call he had made,” Tahlak related.

Federer won his 10th ATP title in Dubai last year

The 38-year-old Federer — who would have been contesting for a record-improving ninth title in Dubai — announced his decision to withdraw from Dubai on Twitter. “My right knee has been bothering me for a little while,” Federer tweeted.

“I hoped it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland yesterday [Wednesday]. After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery. As a result, I will unfortunately have to miss Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota, Miami and the French Open. I am grateful for everyone’s support. I can’t wait to be back playing again soon, see you on the grass!” he added.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, though disappointed, was supportive of the Swiss ace’s decision to skip Dubai. “His victory here last year, the 100th title of his career, was a significant milestone, and he went on to enjoy another outstanding season. We wish him well in his recovery and look forward to not only watching his progress during the rest of the season but welcoming him back to Dubai in 2021,” McLoughlin said.

Tahlak refused to believe that Federer’s absence would have too much of a bearing on the second week of the Dubai Tennis Championships. “Technically, there won’t be too much of an impact simply because we have so many other top players like world number one Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Gael Monfils along with a host of other youngsters like Andrey Rubley and Karen Khachanov,” Tahlak noted.

“No doubt, it is sad that Roger won’t be around this year, but I sincerely believe that most things happen for the best. I say let us be positive and we will certainly have a fantastic second week of tennis,” he added.