Roger Federer during an interview at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

​Dubai: Former World number one Roger Federer is hoping he can rediscover his form of the last six months of 2014 to stage a serious bid on defending his title at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open.

Exactly one month back, Federer fell to Italian Andreas Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open despite starting strongly with the title in Brisbane in the first week of January. On Monday night, the Swiss ace will play Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the first round on centre court.

“It would be a good start back but I know it’s going to be tough because I’ve had a long break. One of the longer ones I’ve had in years but it was necessary because I did feel I was playing a lot of tennis, the last sort of six to eight months. I couldn’t take the necessary rest I wanted to take at the end of the season because of Davis Cup, and I wanted to make sure I stay in rhythm. I keep playing matches or practice, and I think it was the right thing to do. But then I needed that rest I was looking for, and now I’ve got it. So now the comeback might be a bit more difficult,” Federer told media at the customary round table conference on Sunday.

“But I thought the same once I had a two-week vacation after the US Open last year, after Davis Cup semi-finals, and I came back and won Shanghai. There’s a bit more uncertainty maybe going into a tournament after a long break but at the same time you come back refreshed and it might take that one or two matches to really get rolling. That’s where you need an okay draw. You just need to fight your way through your first few matches and then hope you play better,” he added.

His loss to Seppi just gave him an additional nine days, time which he spent with the family, just practising or merely taking a break. Federer won his sixth title in Dubai last year with a win over Tomas Berdych. “Here in Dubai, historically, it’s always been difficult to play very well from the get-go just because conditions are fast. Very often I’ve won the tournament here and I didn’t think I was playing unbelievable. It’s just a matter of managing tough opponents and tough conditions. Margins are as small as they are here so you’ve just got to be ready and fresh in your mind in my opinion,” he said.

Federer was pleased Serena Williams has at long last agreed to play next month’s tournament in Indian Wells, after ommiting it from her schedule for nearly one and a half decades due to racial slurs thrown at them. “I expected it to happen much earlier to be honest, especially as soon as Larry Ellison came in. At some stage I thought they would have talked about it and worked it out in some shape or form and just say like ‘what happened before, let’s move on’. I understand it was a big deal for her but it’s nice seeing that she’s moving on,” the former world number one said.

“It’s such a nice tournament and would she have played the last 14 years she probably would have won at least five or ten times. Maybe that cost her many weeks at world No. 1. And if you think about it, if you would have added those 500 to 1000 points throughout, it was a big sacrifice from her side. And I think it’s nice to see her back in Indian Wells I must say,” he added.