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.”
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