Dubai: It’s finally official. After days of anticipation, Roger Federer has finally confirmed that he will not be playing at next week’s Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open.
Tournament director Salah Tahlak, who had been in touch with Federer’s agent for the past few weeks finally disclosed that the 20-time Grand Slam winner will not be making his trip to his second home in Dubai for the men’s event that gets under way from Monday [February 26].
“I have been in touch with his agent and the last time we spoke he informed me that Federer would rather spend some quality time at home with his wife and kids than make the trip to Dubai,” Tahlak told Gulf News.
“He also said that this decision from the world No. 1 has nothing to do with Dubai, but it’s simply because he doesn’t want to take any chances during the build-up to his defence of the two titles in Indian Wells and Miami,” he added.
“In fact he has conveyed his willingness to come and play in Dubai next year,” Tahlak stressed.
There had been a lot of speculation about Federer actually making the trip to Dubai where he owns an apartment at Le Reve, a 52-storey tower overlooking The Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina. The Swiss ace is a regular here spending a lot of time training especially during the off-season winter months. His plans to play in Dubai also had intensified especially after he re-claimed the world No. 1 spot for the first time since 2012 two days before his win in less than an hour over Dubai top seed Grigor Dimitrov at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last weekend.
“I was informed by his [Federer] agent that he wants to first spend time with his four children and wife Mirka. After that he wants to make the trip early to the US and start preparing for the defence of his title at Indian Wells and Miami later,” Tahlak related.
Dubai and Federer have had a growing relationship over the past decade. His first visit to the Dubai Men’s Open was in 2002 and that ended in a $1,000 fine for “under-performance” after the then world No. 15 lasted just 53 minutes in his second round match against Germany’s Rainer Schuttler ranked No. 40.
Federer had landed in Dubai on Monday fresh from a doubles title at the Rotterdam Open and had defeated Romania’s Adrian Voinea in their first round match.
However, the Swiss ace returned the following year and had a hat-trick of crowns over the next three years (2003 to 2005) followed by another four (2007, 2012, 2014 and 2015).
“As tournament owners and organisers we totally respect the wishes of the player even though he has made Dubai his second home while also winning a record seven titles at our tournament. We are convinced that he will return here next year,” he added.