Roger Federer ready to hit historic 100th title in Dubai

Roger Federer ready to hit historic 100th title in Dubai
Can the Fed-Express storm to a century of titles this week? (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2019

Roger Federer ready to hit historic 100th title in Dubai

Roger Federer ready to hit historic 100th title in Dubai
  • Swiss sensation looking for 100th career title at the Aviation Club.
  • Fed to face Philipp Kohlschreiber in first round on Monday.

LONDON: Roger Federer is confident his experience of playing in Dubai will see him win an eighth Duty Free Championship title and his 100th ATP success, despite slower conditions in Dubai than in past tournaments.
Seeded second and on the other side of the draw of top-seed Kei Nishikori, the Swiss ace is hopeful he can overcome Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first-round match on Monday and push on from there.
“It gives me confidence that I know I can play well here in Dubai, on this court and in these conditions, even though the conditions are playing much slower than in the previous years here. It is a big shift in the tournament,” he said.
“In the past, Dubai always used to be a tournament where you played, you got out of it at the end, you weren’t sure you were playing that good because things are so fast.
“Points get decided on one or two shots here or there. It’s reaction,” he added.
“I think you can really grind a player down now. It’s been actually quite a big change and I’m excited to be here.
“I do believe this surface also lends itself for me to play well here. I hope I can show it (this week).
“I’m feeling good now. Fitness has been going well, tennis has been going well. I’ve been here a few days, I feel really well prepared, I’m excited that the ATP Tour is moving on and I’m here.
“I’m happy to be back,” he said.
Could he win a historic century in Dubai?
“We’ve been talking about 99 titles ever since Basel, every tournament I’ve played. It’s nothing new. Of course, coming to Dubai where I’ve enjoyed a lot of success, sort of makes you believe maybe it could happen here.
“Look, I hope we can have this conversation in a few days’ time and see what happens,” he said.
On his first-round opponent, Federer was taking nothing for granted.
“I just practiced with Kohlschreiber a couple days ago. We played two sets basically, and we really both know what we’re getting into. He looks good, so it’s going to be tough,” he said.
Nishikori, who is playing in Dubai for the first time in his career, is looking forward to a new tournament and a new challenge.
“It was always comfortable to play in Acapulco this week and I used to play in Memphis all the time, it was easier for me to play in the US,” he said.
“But I chose to play last week in Europe, and now in Dubai.
I always wanted to come here. The schedule wasn’t easy, but I chose to come here; it’s something new and fun. I wanted to play two 500s, so
I chose to play here.”
The Japanese star was quick to play down any idea of a “favorite” tag. He also believes the standard of the men’s game means no match on the tour is easy, and his first-round match-up with Benoit Paire will be far from a foregone conclusion.
“He can always be dangerous. Great backhand, I love his backhand. It’s one of the best backhands, (even) two-handed. I’m sure it’s going to be tough one,” he said.
“Especially this year and last year, it’s been getting tougher and tougher (on tour).
“Anyone can beat anybody now, even top 50 or top 100 guys can really play — there are no easy matches,” he said.
That is a sentiment Federer shares. “I think the depth in the men’s game is really strong,” he said.
“I think I have to respect first-round opponents forever, basically. Just because you’re ranked world No. 1, it does not give you a free pass into the second round.
“Maybe it was like that back in the 1950s, I have no idea, but nowadays it’s definitely not like that.”