Roger Federer has left the door open for the possibility of playing the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February, which would give him the opportunity to overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the world rankings.
The Swiss’ Australian Open title coup on Sunday gave him his 20th Grand Slam trophy and saw him close in on Nadal, with only 155 points now separating them at the top of the rankings.
Federer, so far, is not entered in any tournaments in February but should he decide to play in Dubai (starts February 26) or any other event, he will have the chance to leapfrog Nadal before heading to Indian Wells and Miami in March, where the Swiss is defending both titles.
Federer has not held the No. 1 ranking since November 4, 2012, and a return to the summit would cap a tremendous 12 months for him where he captured three Grand Slam titles after hitting the age of 35.
Is he tempted to play Dubai to try and catch Nadal, who is currently sidelined for three weeks nursing a hip injury but is due to compete in Acapulco next month?
“We were in talks with them but when the [Australian Open] tournament started I just said ‘look, if it’s okay, I’d like to decide after the tournament’,” Federer told reporters in Melbourne on Monday at a photoshoot with the trophy to celebrate his title.
“That’s the ideal scenario for me and my family, to see what’s happening after the tournament, I’ll know how I feel, did I play seven times five sets, did I play one times three sets? What happened, did I come out injured? So now we know what the situation is, I also have to decide on the clay-court season, so all these things are kind of interlinked. It’s possible I play something, but it’s also possible that I don’t play anything. It depends, I’ll make a decision in the next week or so.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) January 29, 2018
Federer opted out of playing any clay tournaments last year and skipped the French Open. It’s unclear whether he’ll do the same this season or not.
The 36-year-old spoke about the key to his longevity after defeating Marin Cilic in five sets to lift the trophy at Melbourne Park on Sunday, and one major factor has been how selective he has become when it comes to his schedule.
“I think by not overplaying, not playing every tournament possible. I enjoy practice. Not minding the travel. Having a great team around me, they make it possible. At the end it’s seeing that my parents are incredibly proud and happy that I’m still doing it. They enjoy coming to tournaments. That makes me happy and play better,” Federer said after the final, on how he keeps going.
“Then, of course, my wife who makes it all possible. Without her support, I wouldn’t be playing tennis no more since many years… Many puzzles need to fit together for me to be able to sit here tonight.”
Federer is the only man to hit the 20 Grand Slam titles mark, and he is fourth on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22).
Asked if he ever thinks of targeting Court’s all-time record, Federer said: “I don’t know. I didn’t think 20 was ever possible to be honest. But no, I think it’s too far, it’s not something I’m looking at. I never thought about it to be honest but those numbers are surreal and they’re amazing. I’m very happy if it stays at 20.”
The 27-year-old became the first player – man or woman – from Denmark to lift a singles Grand Slam trophy when she defeated Simona Halep in three tight sets in scorching weather on Saturday.
She got just one and a half hours of sleep on Saturday night before she met with reporters at the Royal Botanic Gardens on Sunday morning for a special photo shoot with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial trophy.
“I’m just overwhelmed, excited, happy, a mix of a lot of emotions,” Wozniacki said.
“I’m just soaking it all in. This doesn’t come every day, so when I have this opportunity and have these amazing days – I’m just really thrilled to be here.”
Her friend Serena Williams was one of many athletes who took to social media to congratulate Wozniacki and the Dane is keen to reunite with the 23-time Grand Slam winner to celebrate her maiden success.
I got too nervous to watch but woke up to @CaroWozniacki new number one and aussie open champ. So awesome. So happy. Are those tears? Yup they are. 😭 from a year ago to today I’m so proud my friend so proud. Literally can’t even sleep now
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 27, 2018
“She sent me a great message last night too, just sent me a text. We’re very close. Her support means a lot. We’re definitely going to celebrate once I see her next,” said Wozniacki of Williams, who is set to return from her maternity leave at next week’s Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands.
She added: “I’ve heard from the royal family yes, they congratulated me and are very thrilled for me so that was very exciting.”
Wozniacki saved two match points in her second round win over Jana Fett and came ever so close to packing her bags early and leaving Melbourne.
“It’s a bit of a roller coaster, but after I got through that match I had nothing to lose anymore and I guess it was meant to be,” said Wozniacki.
Her epic battle with Halep in the final lasted two hours and 49 minutes in brutal heat, and the Romanian was reportedly taken to the hospital on Saturday night and was treated for four hours for dehydration before getting released on Sunday morning.
“By the third set I think we were both too exhausted. It was just two warriors out there just trying to be the last woman standing. I think it really helped not to get too nervous closing it out, I was like ‘okay, I’m so tired, you just have a few points more to go’ and that was really my thought. And I thought we both played amazing tennis, Simona’s a great fighter and I’m sure that she’ll have many more opportunities in the future,” said Wozniacki, who was not told about Halep’s condition during her chat with reporters.
“It was warm out there. I think we both felt it, especially towards the end of the third set. We’d been battling for hours out there but I think it made it very special. Australia, we expect the heat, we expect being out there in warm conditions so I think it was a perfect end to the tournament.”
Roger Federer wrote a new chapter in the history books with his five-set triumph over Marin Cilic at the Australian Open on Sunday.
His sixth success at Melbourne Park saw him join Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson at the top of the all-time list of Australian Open titles and he became the first man and just the fourth player to claim 20 or more Grand Slam trophies.
Here are the main takeaways from yet another successful major for the Swiss…
FED EXPRESS HAS ALL THE FUEL HE NEEDS
In 2009, Federer cried as he addressed the crowd on Rod Laver Arena following a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the final.
With spectators in the stands giving him a standing ovation, Federer was overcome by emotion and could barely speak. “God, it’s killing me,” the then 27-year-old Federer told his admirers.
It is nine years and seven Grand Slam titles later and Federer still treats this sport with just as much passion and emotion.
He was once again in tears on Rod Laver Arena, this time after capturing a historic 20th Grand Slam trophy on Sunday.
At 36, and with countless records to his name, Federer is somehow not yet content. It’s that passion that continues to drive him to keep going.
Cilic says it best when asked what makes Federer such an extraordinary player: “I would say first the passion to compete, season after season, especially at this high level. Then also being able to challenge himself first physically and then mentally, as well, to be at the top almost every single week.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018
TIME TO FULLY APPRECIATE MARIN CILIC
No matter his ranking, or the shape he’s in, or the results under his belt, Cilic tends to get less attention than he deserves in the early rounds at the majors and flies under the radar until he’s one of the very few players left standing in the draw.
He’s made the quarter-finals or better in eight of his last 14 Slams, including three finals.
For a Grand Slam champion, Cilic is somehow often overlooked. But he’s earned his place in the world’s top-three now and continues to improve every aspect of his game. He has now made two finals in his last three majors and despite his defeat to Federer on Sunday, will have gained even more confidence from a big fortnight in Melbourne.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018
RACE FOR NO. 1 HEATS UP
Nadal retained his spot at the top of the rankings despite his quarter-final exit via retirement against Cilic but Federer is breathing down his neck, trailing him by a mere 155 points. Both Nadal and Federer have a lot of points to defend in the upcoming period and it’s going to be a real tug of war for the No. 1 ranking over the next few months. With Federer brimming with confidence and Nadal sidelined for three weeks nursing a leg problem, you’ve got to think the Swiss will finally reclaim that top spot before 2018 ends.