Roger Federer has declared himself “super-fresh” mentally as he plans to make his first appearance since his historic Australian Open triumph last month this week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The record 18-time grand slam winner is gunning for an eighth title in Dubai as the tournament celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Federer will be participating in the event for the 13th time and is on a 10-match winning streak in the emirate, having captured the title in 2014 and 2015, before missing last year’s edition with a knee injury.
Four weeks on from his incredible five-set victory over Rafael Nadal in the Melbourne final, Federer says he’s ready to step back on the court even though he only just got the all-clear for an inner thigh problem that bothered him during the Australian Open.
“Mentally I’m super-fresh again. I think I refueled the energy tank, on the mental side, being home, spending time with the family, being in the winter in the mountains in Switzerland. It was beautiful to be home in my own house and just enjoy that part,” Federer told Sport360 on Saturday.
“Physically I had a bit of a problem with my leg, that was bothering me for basically 10 days of the Australian Open, I didn’t have treatment for nothing, so I did an MRI after.
“There was a bit of an issue, hematoma. I did it (scan) again last Monday before I came and it definitely was better. So since three days now I’m practicing at 100 per cent. I’m a little bit tired because it’s the first time I’m actually pushing myself again, but because it’s fast court, best-of-three , I will be fine.”
Federer opens his Dubai campaign against Frenchman Benoit Paire and has been drawn in the same half as top-seeded Andy Murray.
A long-time Dubai resident, the 35-year-old is looking forward to making his return to the courts in a city which he considers his second home.
“Maybe very fitting in the sense that yes I do enjoy this tournament. I was not going to risk injury playing here, I think nobody wants to see me doing that. It’s definitely nice you go from home to another home. From that standpoint yes I enjoy being here, that’s why also you don’t mind coming here early and actually getting yourself the perfect preparation,” said the world No9.
Federer recently pledged his commitment to compete in his home tournament in Basel until 2019, squashing any speculation over an impending retirement.
“It is a way, that where I was a ball boy, that people know that I’ll be playing there. As long as I’m playing, I will be playing there,” he elaborated on Saturday.
“It’s like Halle, people know every year I play Halle as long as I’m playing.
“You don’t want to sit down with the tournament director and say ‘Shall we do it? Shall we not do it? What’s your idea?’ and I told him ‘look, I’m going to be playing’.
“Whatever the deal is I’m going to be playing and I want them to have a successful event and by them knowing my commitment they can plan ahead.
“So then they win, I know, the fans win because they know, now they can bank on that, and plus I know it’s a lovely tournament to play in and it gives me also the vision looking ahead which I’ve always talked about, wanting to play for more years.”
The men’s Dubai tournament begins on Monday and will conclude on Saturday March 4.
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