Why Dubai is a home away from home for Federer

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Federer's love affair with Dubai.

The surrounds of Dubai have become quite accustomed to the presence of Roger Federer down the years and the Swiss legend can certainly call the UAE a second home.

The Emirate has served as Federer’s off-season training base for many years, and given his title-laden success at the Aviation Club (seven tournament wins), it’s easy to see why the veteran feels so comfortable in the city.

When you place ‘Federer’ and ‘Dubai’ together in a search engine, RF’s legendary hit with Andre Agassi on top of the Burj Al Arab way back in 2005 floods the results pages.

And, rightly so. That was an iconic moment and ever since then Federer and Dubai have kind of gone hand-in-hand. It’s been a bit of a love affair.

Few expected Federer to add to his 17 Grand Slam titles but he did just that last month at the Australian Open in Melbourne. His win over eternal rival Rafael Nadal was the stuff of dreams and a moment that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Federer’s success Down Under was well documented but less so the part Dubai played in that historic triumph.

On Thursday, December 22, 2016, Federer broadcast his final practice live on his social media channels from his favoured Al Qasr tennis court, giving a unique insight into how he trains and gets ready for the new season.

For fans of the 35-year-old, it was a festive gift worth its weight in gold, especially when Federer then held a question and answer session on Periscope following his hit with Lucas Pouille.

The cleverly-scheduled output of this practice by Federer and his team fed a hungry Fed-fanbase wondering what he had been up to in his six months or so of injury rehabilitation since his last match at Wimbledon.

Federer spent virtually all of December in Dubai and it was once again the place where he found full fitness, confidence and crucially time away from the limelight to get to work.

He was not quite practicing at full tilt in Basel and Geneva in November, but in Dubai he upped the ante.

Hitting regularly at Jumeirah Al Qasr, the venue he has practiced at for over ten years and one of which is a short drive from his Dubai Marina home, it was the perfect place for Federer to fine-tune his game.

He hit there most days but also spent a large chunk of time at Meydan, with the latter boasting similar court surface conditions to the Australian Open.

This, coupled with the trusty warm UAE climate, provided the perfect springboard for Federer heading to the Hopman Cup in Perth that kicked-off 2017.

Working with long-term coach Severin Luthi, chief lieutenant of the Federer camp and the man Federer places utmost trust in, and Ivan Ljubicic, the coaching pair made Federer believe he could win another Grand Slam.

Pierre Paganini, Federer’s renowned fitness guru, who has worked with the Swiss on conditioning, flexibility, balance and coordination for well over two decades, deserves an honourable mention.

He is a man very much behind the scenes but the work he does with Federer in Dubai is crucial, and we were fortunate enough to get a taste of that during the live periscope broadcast.

The input of Paganini, a fellow Swiss, is without doubt a key reason why Federer stayed injury-free and at peak physical condition throughout the best years of his career, while Daniel Troxler – Federer’s personal physiotherapist – has also worked wonders.

The two men conjured up a divisive physical conditioning plan to free the Swiss of troublesome knee pain and build up strength in his left side.

When you actually look back at the way Federer was moving at the Australian Open, it is mind-blowing that he looked as good as ever.

For that, Paganini and Troxler deserve a great deal of credit.

In Dubai, lengthy sessions, of at least two to three hours on the court for a month-long period, were supported by Federer’s stretching and core work in the gym.

He revealed that he completes these two key elements before stepping foot on to the court and emphasised how important the warm-up segment of his training regime is.

Dubai, simply, allows Federer to go about his business in privacy – and then achieve tennis and fitness goals in intensive training blocks.

Federer and his team’s approach to fitness has been a key ingredient in their catalogue of successes and will continue to be moving forward given the father of four has committed to playing until at least 2019.

Right now, after another gruelling week of travel that saw him launch the Laver Cup in Prague, Federer’s back in Dubai and will surely go about his business on court with more freedom than ever at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

For sure, he’ll be safe in the knowledge that he has that 18th slam on his mantelpiece and is hungry to achieve more.

Federer missed this tournament through injury last year so fans should relish the chance to see him back in action at the Aviation Club again.

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Wozniacki aiming for second Dubai title

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The Danish former World No1 reached Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Anastasija Sevastova on Friday night at the Aviation Club.

Wozniacki, who was a champion in Dubai back in 2011, made the final at the Qatar Open last week and has continued her rich vein of form in the Emirate.

The 26-year-old highlighted her physical work off the court, as well as adequate recovery, as two fundamental factors behind yet another victory.

"I love playing here, I've got a pretty good record in Dubai so hopefully I can get one more win and then take a well-deserved break," Wozniacki, who will play either Angelique Kerber or Elina Svitolina in the final, told media post-match.
Will Wozniacki win again in Dubai?


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Federer and Murray play beach tennis in Dubai

Sport360 staff 24/02/2017
Friends off court: Federer and Murray in Dubai.

The star-studded duo took some time out from serious practice for an impromptu match on the beach facing the iconic Burj Al Arab at the Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel on Friday.

Murray and Federer haven’t played since the Australian Open, as the Swiss maestro went on to win his 18th Grand Slam with a famous victory over Rafael Nadal.

But now back at his home from home in Dubai, the city where he often trains, Federer took on Murray on the beach as tournament Director Salah Tahlak umpired.

It was the perfect place to warm up for the ATP Tournament which kicks off on Monday 27 February. “I’m looking forward to playing, especially on the anniversary of 25 years here in Dubai. It’s nice to be part of a tournament celebrating something. I’ve had some great years here in Dubai, I wanted to be in good shape and ready for the conditions so I came early this year,” 35-year-old Federer said. “The players like this tournament so much, it’s well organized, and well run with good crowds, and with the hotel and everything on site it’s so convenient. “Today was a nice way to start the celebrations of 25 years, now I can’t wait for the tournament to start.” Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP Finals champion Murray, added: “It was good fun today playing on the beach, I’ve never done that and the sun came out for us so that was a good start to the day. “I enjoy coming to Dubai, I’ve played here a number of years. I feel fresh, I’ve had a long break since the Australian Open and I feel refreshed and looking forward to competing again”. The 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event runs from 27 February until 4 March, and also features defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the entertaining Gael Monfils. Tickets are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are also available online through http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.

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