Roger Federer is seen practicing
Roger Federer is back at his winter base in Dubai, trying to be match-fit under Ivan Ljubicic for the season ahead. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Ivan Ljubicic, former world No.3 and Roger Federer’s coach, is focused on helping the Swiss ace with his preparations in Dubai as the owner of 20 grand slam titles hopes for a comeback at the 2021 Australian Open scheduled in Febuary.

Ljubicic, who teamed up with Federer in 2016, has played a crucial role in Federer improving on certain weaker areas of his game - while navigating a few more successful moments for the Swiss during the last few seasons of his career.

Now preparing for a second comeback on the ATP following a couple of surgeries on his knee, Federer has landed at his winter home in Dubai with his coaching team to focus on the season ahead.

“The first objective is obvious, to prepare for the first commitments of 2021, when we can play,” Ljubicic told media prior to his departure from Europe earlier this week.

“It is difficult to do it now without fixed points (in the schedule). We are moving forward trying to prepare for a normal year. From December 14, we will be in Dubai to train, and then, who knows”

- Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Federer

“Then we will see. I could say Wimbledon, but it’s obvious, that’s always the top target for him,” the Croat coach added.

“We will discuss the schedule when there is enough news,” Ljubicic said. “It is difficult to do it now without fixed points. We are moving forward trying to prepare for a normal year. From December 14, we will be in Dubai to train, and then, who knows,” he revealed.

Earlier this week, the ATP announced an update to the 2021 ATP Tour calendar, outlining a revised schedule for the first seven weeks of the season. Confirmed details of weeks 8 to 13 will be announced separately, while all subsequent sections of the 2021 calendar, beginning with the Spring clay-court season from week 14, remain unchanged.


The Australian Open men’s qualifying will take place in Doha from January 10-13 and the allocated dates of January 15-31 will then allow for travel along with a 14-day quarantine period for all players and support staff to Melbourne.

The controlled environment quarantine period will enable players to prepare ahead of the inaugural 12-team ATP Cup in Melbourne from February 1-5, that will be played alongside the relocated Adelaide International and an additional ATP 250 tournament from January 31 to February 6, all to be held in Melbourne.

The Australian Open will follow from February 8-21.

Though Ljubicic confirmed that Federer and his team have already been training in Dubai since earlier this week, the Croatian coach didn’t reveal too much on his exact plans for the first quarter of 2021.

After being friends for years, Federer and Ljubicic started working together in 2016. Following his first knee surgery that year, Federer made an impressive comeback in 2017, barely losing a match and claiming two major titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon - his first major trophies since 2012.

By February 2018, Federer had managed to climb back into his world number one spot and he celebrated this achievement with a record 20th Grand Slam while winning the Australian Open at the age of 36. During 2019, Federer won four ATP titles and finished inside the top-3 behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

He made a strong start to 2020 in reaching the semi-final at the Australian Open where he lost to eventual champion Djokovic. That was also Federer’s last match of the year as he announced a surgery on his troublesome knee just before he could travel here for the Dubai Tennis Championships in February earlier this year.

Federer had then undergone a second surgery during the year and the Swiss has now been back on the practice courts since October.

The Swiss master had sent his fans in a tizzy while hinting he may not be around for too long during last week’s Swiss Sports Awards where he was honoured as the ‘Best Swiss Sportsman’ of the past 70 years. Ljubicic, however, put all speculation at rest when he assured the tennis world that the Swiss master is focused on playing at least till the end of 2021.