The Dubai Open might not be a premier event in men's tennis but over the years, it has slowly become known as a place where top players love to open up more about themselves and their future goals. This year too, the presence of stars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the draw has only added to the spark of this ATP 500 tournament.
Tennis, being an individual sport, has a great tradition of famous rivalries that have always kept the sport enthralling for fans. The greatest of all of these rivalries, unarguably, has been that between grass-court legend Roger Federer and World No.1 Rafael Nadal. When asked if the Spanish player had it in him to surpass his undisputed tally of 17 Grand Slam titles, Federer said it was possible. (Nadal set to eclipse Federer in earnings)
"If Rafa can beat my Grand Slam record? Yes, it is a possibility. But the good thing is that I am still active, thus I can still increase my advantage and win some more. And when I say that I don't just refer to the Slam tournaments, but also to the rest of the ATP tournaments. For example, the Dubai tournament is very important for me. I ought to do good here," Federer told Times of India. (Read more)
When asked about whether he was disappointed to lose to Nadal in the semifinals of the Australian Open this year, Federer said that it was not the first time he had lost to the French Open champion.
Federer, who has taken a step towards coming back to his sublime form by hiring Stefan Edberg as coach, made an impressive start to the tournament in Dubai, with a straight-sets victory over Germany's Benjamin Becker. (Federer in Dubai to show revival is real)
"Stefan's (Edberg) has been an inspirational and motivational partnership. At this stage in my career you are not going to see me make any technical changes, the way I hit my backhand and forehand, it's the little details, tactics. He's one of the great players in the game and I enjoy talking to him about his time, the rivalries of his era, I relate to it," said the Swiss ace on how his game had benefited after he hired Edberg as coach.
The chances of Federer adding another ATP title to his tally of 77 in Dubai may be bleak with world No.2 Novak Djokovic being in the same half of his draw, but the Swiss ace said that he was still keeping positive.
"I have been raffled to play in Djokovic's same side of the draw, but I stay positive. I feel good physically and that's what matters the most for me at the moment. To reach the semifinal or final it would be good. I don't feel any pain anymore. I have been doing a great preparation here in Dubai. I have a feeling that my level is getting closer to the best possible for me," said the World No.8.
Judging by the kind of shots Federer played in his first match in Dubai, this is surely going to be another great clash for tennis fans around the world.