Dubai: No one dare mess around with Dubai’s latest champion Roger Federer.
Saturday’s eighth triumph made the former world No. 1 look back at a past memory that actually led him to do so well in this event since his debut in 2002.
Back in 2002 when he was ranked No. 14, Federer had arrived on a Monday a few hours after winning the doubles crown in Rotterdam. He had got through Round One [6-3, 6-4 against Adrian Voinea], but lost in the second [3-6, 1-6 to Rainer Schuttler] the next day.
Tournament director Jeff Chapman had withheld Federer’s prize money purse of $12,450 (Dh45,700) and the appearance fee citing a ‘lack of effort’ from the Swiss player.
“Yeah, it was a tricky situation because I was in second round of singles and doubles. I was accused of tanking. Tanking in the second round?” he recalled after winning his eighth crown on Saturday.
“I was frustrated in the last couple of games in the match against Rainer Schuettler because I was young and crazy. I was so fed up with my game. I just started to go for big shots. The tournament director wasn’t happy with what he saw. Anyway, he withheld everything. But the tour said: ‘No chance you can do this. Roger tried, so it’s all good’. Then I came back the next year and wanted to prove a point. I ended up going for three in-a-row. So ... that’s what happens sometimes. You have to learn it the hard way,” he shrugged.
Federer won three straight titles from 2003 to 2005, and followed it up with another four in 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2015 and went on to add his eighth late on Saturday.