17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has arrived in Dubai brimming with confidence, as he prepares to take part in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which begins on Monday. The tournament marks Federer’s first ATP event since his semi-final exit to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
Currently injury-free and motivated, Federer believes he is playing “top tennis” and that his best tennis is yet to come.
“I am playing top tennis,” the Swiss said. “For me it’s just a matter of staying healthy, staying consistent and getting to semis and finals. I feel as if I’m in as good a shape as I have been for a year, so that’s very encouraging. I feel my best tennis is around the corner.
I know I’ve said that a few times, but this time I really feel it’s the case. I have zero pain and spent a very encouraging month in Dubai training in December. I am confident for the year ahead.”
The Dubai Open will feature five of the Top 10 competitors on the ATP tour, including world N0. 2 Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych. Federer will need to find his best tennis if he is to win his first title in Dubai since 2012. The 32 year old holds a 37-5 record at the event, winning five titles between 2003-12, and finishing runner-up on two other occasions. Federer is defending semi-final points this week, having lost to Berdych at that stage of the tournament last year.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Federer. “I think Berdych is playing really well. Jo-Willy is always very dangerous. Clearly the favourite for me is Novak. He had a great end to last year, and then had a solid start to this year. Could have won against Stan at the Australian Open and who knows, maybe gone on to win the tournament there. I see him as the favourite for this tournament, plus he’s played really well here. The victor is going to go through him at this tournament.”
The seven-time Wimbledon champion also commented on longtime rival Rafael Nadal, stating that he believes the Spaniard could potentially overtake his Grand Slam record. While that may be the case, Federer intends on adding to his own collection of major championships, which should make Rafa’s task significantly harder.
“Could Rafa [Nadal] eclipse my [Grand Slam] record? Yeah, absolutely. But the good thing is I am still playing and my goal is to add more titles to my count — and not just Grand Slam titles. I love any tennis tournament I play in and Dubai is an important tournament for me.”