Dubai: Tennis legend Roger Federer is sniffing at the Dubai feel-good factor in an attempt to take his individual titles’ count into three figures when he starts against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, late on Monday.
Not one to look too much at records, Federer has won the Dubai crown a record seven times, and an eighth one next Saturday will see him lift an incredible 100th singles career title. He is not too stressed about the feat any way.
“When it happens, it happens. I think that’s got to be the mindset. That you try your best every match, every week anyway. Things fall into place or they don’t. It’s not because of lack of effort,” Federer told media at the customary Sunday round table meeting.
“We’ve been talking about 99 titles ever since Basel and every tournament I’ve played after that. There’s nothing new,” he shrugged.
But Dubai is special to Federer. He owns a six-bedroom apartment at Dubai Marina, and uses it as his base during the leaner months. “Of course, coming to Dubai where I’ve enjoyed a lot of success sort of makes you believe maybe it could happen here. Then again, the draw is tough and I haven’t played in a few weeks,” he observed.
“So you re-set everything and get ready for your first round. You hope everything is going to click again here in Dubai. It’s going to be tough. Look, I hope we can have this conversation in a few days’ time and see what happens,” he added.
Counted as one of the favourites for the season-opening Australian Open, the 37-year-old Swiss maestro fell to Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas. But he did the wise thing as he moved on with his life. “Took me maybe half a day. I got back, it was anyway super late. I still felt like I played okay. It wasn’t like a horrible tournament for me. Played great at the Hopman Cup. I played good actually all matches. I just messed up on some big, big points. I’m not going to change my game because I missed out on some opportunities,” he related.
“It’s actually been a nice break away from it all. I went on vacation after the Australian Open with the family. You know me, I love that. After that, I went to practice. The important thing was not to get hurt because I was training in Switzerland. It was cold. We had snow and everything. I’m happy I got through that one well. Actually I’m feeling good now. Fitness has been going well, tennis has been going well. I’ve been here a few days. I feel really well prepared. I’m excited that the ATP Tour is moving on and I’m here. I’m happy to be back,” Federer added.
In fact, Federer and his first round opponent Kohlschreiber practised with each other on Saturday evening despite knowing that they were to meet in the first round on Monday. “I just practised with Kohlschreiber a couple days ago. We played two sets basically. We really both know what we’re getting into. He looks good, so it’s going to be tough,” Federer said.
“I’m excited to be here. I do believe this surface also lends itself very well for me to play well here. Hope I can show it tomorrow. It’s interesting,” he smiled.