Dubai: Despite being on the wane, what worth does a player like Roger Federer bring to any tournament he participates in?
This week’s Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open could be an indicator of sorts.
According to Tournament Director Salah Tahlak, Dubai – like many other venues around the world that have been graced by the presence of the Swiss ace – owes an eternal gratitude to one of the greatest tennis players of our time.
“A major part of the crowds that come here to our tournament have been coming for him. I think he has added a big value to our tournament. His name is connected to Dubai. Everyone knows Roger and Dubai. He is a brand in itself,” Tahlak said.
“What he [Federer] has done for tennis no one from memory has done so far. He has the ability to upgrade any event he attends and plays in. He brings that something special. In the IPTL, he has played in non-tennis cities or countries and he has brought something special and it has been good for them,” he added.
As defending champion, Federer was a late withdrawal from the tournament that he has won a record seven times. Since his arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month, Federer has not made it clear as to when he intends stepping back on court.
“His absence here is a bit sad and it was really unexpected. I was informed about the surgery the same day. He’s going to be four to six weeks off the courts and that’s a huge loss for the game,” Tahlak said.
With the singles Olympic gold medal heavily among his priorities, it may well be a good period for Federer to get the surgery out of the way. And though the 17-time Grand Slam champion is missing this year, he is sure to return next year to the familiar stadium in Garhoud.
“He is 34 years old and this year is the Olympic Games. But I must say that Federer is still (in) the top three and he is going well for his age,” Tahlak said.
However, fans from the region need not despair, as the Swiss master is set be coming to Dubai for awhile. “He is contracted for another two years at least until 2018. And my boss Colm [McLoughlin] has told him that he’s welcome to come and play in Dubai as long as he wants to,” Tahlak disclosed.
“I think it would be fantastic to see Federer play at our event in Dubai till the 2020 Expo, or even better, would be to have him with us till 2021 when the UAE marks its golden jubilee,” he added.