Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipa
Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas pose with their trophies. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai champion Roger Federer admitted that he has had the temptation to step away from his sport at times.

Moments after claiming his eighth crown at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the 100th title of his career, Federer admitted that he has been tempted in the past to stop playing.

“I think every player has those weak five seconds where you’re like, Really? This could be after losing an epic five-setter. It could be after playing a shocker. It could be sometimes after winning something. You’re like, ‘How much more do I want to do?’” Federer told media after being asked if he ever thought about retirement.

“I think everybody goes through that. It would be lying if they said, I never doubt it. I think everybody goes through these phases. It’s logical. We have too much downtime, too much time on the road, too much rain delays, you name it, that makes you go through with your head sometimes,” he added.

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Federer has been a legend not just when it comes to tennis, but also in the way he has conserved his body at 37 years. He sustained a freak knee injury in 2016 that forced him to undergo surgery and miss out tournaments in Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.

Ultimately, he made his comeback at the Monte Carlo event and lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. But the break from sport helped him put things in perspective.

“I think definitely the surgery was for me a sort of a major reality check in the sense that maybe I will come back, I knew that, but maybe never quite the same,” he recalled.

“I’m happy I can look back now and play with absolutely no pain, no painkillers this week. It’s a big week for me, to be quite honest, to go through a week like that. I’m very, very pleased,” Federer smiled.

Later in 2016, he had to also skip the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Asked about the possibility of him making it to the 2020 Tokyo Games? “I don’t know how I’m going to qualify, to be honest. And if I do, I don’t know if I’m still playing. It’s still too far away for me,” he said.

“I don’t know. I just don’t want my mind to go there. I think if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I think it’s not like my first Olympics where obviously I always wanted to be part of it. So we’ll really see how it’s going to play out,” Federer added.

For the die-hard tennis fans of Dubai, the good news is that Federer will be back next year to defend his title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Scheduled to be held at its normal time in the second week of February, tournament director Salah Tahlak announced late on Saturday that Federer has already committed to playing in Dubai in 2020.

“We have plans to make next year’s tournament very special considering that fact that Dubai will be hosting the 2020 Expo starting later in October. Ours will be one of the events leading up to the Expo. So having Federer back to defend his title makes perfect sense, not just for the tournament but for Dubai as well,” Tahlak told Gulf News.

When asked later about his plans for next year, the eight-time Dubai champion said: “I think that was the answer. The idea was for the people to know that I am coming back next year. That is the plan. I have a deal for next year. I thought about it this week because I know they said they were interested to have me again next year, if it was okay to announce it during the week. I said, Absolutely, we can do that.”

“I don’t see myself playing anywhere else but Dubai this week. I’m happy to come here again next year. I’ve enjoyed too much success. I like the tournament too much. So I will be here next year,” the Swiss ace promised.

Federer’s success in Dubai started off with three back-to-back titles from 2003 to 2005, and now, another five — 2007, 2012, 2014, 2015 and now 2019.