Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Top two to miss Dubai

The loss of Roger Federer from the Barclays Tennis Championships in Dubai is the latest in a series of major blows to hit this year's tournament.

DUBAI // The loss of Roger Federer, who as a four-time champion topped the bill at the star-studded Barclays Tennis Championships, is the latest in a series of major blows to hit this year's tournament. The gloss has been taken off the one of the most attractive women's events outside the grand slams by the Sharar Peer visa controversy and now next week's men's showpiece, already threatened by another potential visa problem involving the Israeli doubles player Andy Ram, might by deprived of the world's best two players. Before Federer announced his withdrawal late on Tuesday night, Rafael Nadal who last year deposed the Swiss at the top of the rankings, indicated he may also have to pull out of the 32-man tournament through injury. Both men suffered badly at the end of last season with their respective fitness problems. Federer's back pain is evidently more serious than Nadal's knee because he has declared an intention to take "a few weeks" off to give the damage time to heal. Nadal has given notice that the recurrence of the knee injury which kept him out of the end-of-season Masters Cup in Shanghai and Spain's Davis Cup final win over Argentina would not allow him to play in Dubai and in his country's ensuing Davis Cup tie against Serbia. His preference is likely to be the Davis Cup tie. Damaging though Nadal's absence would be to the US$2million (Dh7,346m) tournament, it is overshadowed by Federer not appearing in his adopted home for the first time since 2002. Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, who organised this two-week tennis festival and were the original title sponsors, said: "Roger is a four-time winner here and a great fan of Dubai and the tournament. We are sorry that injury has prevented him from playing this year but we wish him a speedy recovery." "This decision was very difficult for me," said Federer, who will also miss Switzerland's Davis Cup tie away to the United States next month. "I won't just be missing one of my favourite tournaments of the tour, but also the chance to go through to the next round with my teammates." Federer, 27, who has not played since losing an epic five-set Australian Open final to Nadal last month, believes the problem which forced his withdrawal from the Paris Masters in October and impaired his challenge for the ensuing Masters Cup in Shanghai, has not been given enough time to heal. "After injuring my back last autumn, I did not have enough time to strengthen it completely," he said. " So I will use the next few weeks to make sure it is fully rehabilitated." Federer, so close to equalling Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles in Melbourne, is determined to be at his peak for the three other majors of the year, particularly Wimbledon where he has triumphed five times and the US Open which he won for the fifth time last year. His Dubai withdrawal and the considerable doubts about the participation of French Open and Wimbledon champion Nadal increases the prospects of Britain's Andy Murray completing a Middle East treble, the Scotsman having retained his Doha title last month a week after his splendid triumph in the inaugural Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament. Andy Roddick, the big serving American who capitalised on Federer's first round Dubai exit at the hands of Murray 12 months ago, will also be eyeing a repeat win, while Novak Djokovic, winner of the Masters Cup in Nadal's absence, is another contender whose chances have dramatically improved.

wjohnson@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National