Roger Federer Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: Sporting a brand new haircut but undergoing treatment for a lung infection which prompted his withdrawal from the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships yesterday, world No 1 Roger Federer found time to express hope that his good friend Tiger Woods would return soon to the golf course.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News at the Burj Al Arab hotel, Federer commented on Woods' recent televised public apology to his fans, officials and family after he was involved in a series of extra-marital affairs. "It's been hard to watch from far away but I would love to see him back on the golf course. It is what he does best," he said.

Both Federer and Woods made a connection when the golfer attended the 2006 US Open final to watch Federer win the title.

Worst is over

"Tiger is a good friend of mine," said Federer. "What's happened to him has been hard to watch over the last three months right down to when he made his apology. I am sure he's headed in a better direction now. The worst has passed.

"I hope that he can also work things out with his wife Elin because they are very nice people — obviously for the sake of their kids as well."

When asked if he was always at hand to support Woods through the ordeal, Federer said, "I have supported him, but I haven't had any contact with him. He has been where he knows he has been (in therapy) but my support does not change. I wish him the best."

Federer was quick to emphasise that he never takes the public's perception of him as a role model — both as a professional tennis player and as someone who endorses brands — for granted. "Never," he said. "It goes away quickly. I am fortunate because it seems like my image is good at the moment."