Federer readies for historic Dubai quest

With a fan base that stretches across the world, Roger Federer is at home wherever he competes, but the World No. 2 admits some cities have become more special than others.

As Federer readies to begin his quest for an unprecedented seventh Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown, the Swiss described the comfort of competing in the city he calls his training base.

“I have to switch my mind from relaxing to tournament rhythm,” said Federer. “That’s why I have the tendency, either in Basel or Dubai, to check into a hotel and say ‘ok, I’m at a tournament’. Last year I stayed at home, this year I’m back at a hotel. I mix it up depending on how my mood is. We’ll see how it starts tomorrow. I’m eager to find out.

“I’m growing a great fan base all around the world. I feel very welcome. Every tournament seems to want me there. It fills me with great joy. If you have something you really enjoy doing, why give that up? I feel I can still play with the best and when you win titles things get simpler again.”

The 33-year-old father of four is closing in on two milestones in the Arabian desert. The all-time tournament leader with six titles and 42 match wins, he is bidding to win seven or more titles at three tournaments, in addition to his haul at Wimbledon (7) and the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (7). Federer is also closing in on becoming just the fourth player to achieve 9,000 aces, needing to strike 23 to reach the plateau.

Federer's Stomping Grounds

Gerry Weber Open (Halle) - 7
Wimbledon - 7
ATP World Tour Finals - 6
Western and Southern Open (Cincinnati) - 6
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships - 6
Swiss Indoors Basel - 6

With an elite field that also includes four-time champion Novak Djokovic, 2012 runner-up Andy Murray and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych, neither task will be easy for the defending champion. Federer understands he'll need to work hard to retain the title.

“I think it’s going to be tough. It’s tough for anybody. When you take a close look at everybody who’s here, you always think it’s hard…Every match has to be played. You only have to beat whoever is on the opposite side of the net. You don’t have to beat the other 31 guys in the draw. You want to have the right mindset going into a tough tournament like this. It’s hard, but it’s been like this for years now. I take it one match at a time, but at the same time when you’re the player of my caliber and experience you have to focus on your own game.”

Federer will renew a 15-year-old rivalry against former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny in the first round. The second seed leads the ATP Head to Head series 15-0. He says he is eager to return to action following a four-week break after suffering a third round exit to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open. Refreshed and reloaded, Federer has a plan.

“I’ve been very lucid, very clear in what I wanted to do in the past month between vacation, practice and build-up (to Dubai), getting everything organised all the way to Wimbledon and beyond. It has been a good time for me to re-assess my goals and come back stronger.”

Date: 23rd February 2015, Source: ATP


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