x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Federer in Dubai

Disappointed he was not in Dubai to play, Roger Federer, was confident about this year and happy to promote a Swiss-made coffee-machine.

DUBAI // Roger Federer may not be fit to attempt to regain his Dubai Tennis Championship title this week, but his back injury did not prevent him from fulfilling a sponsors' commitment in the city. Federer, 27, has been in the UAE to promote a Swiss-made coffee-machine, of which he is a brand ambassador. He was at pains to emphasise the link to his nationality. But the world No2, who spends as many as three months each year in the UAE, has become just as synonymous with Dubai in recent times. He has prepared for past Wimbledon championships with a fortnight of training in the 45 degree heat of the UAE summer. The four-time winner of the Dubai Men's Open also featured in one of sports marketing's most iconic images, when he staged a knock-up with Andre Agassi on the helipad of the Burj al Arab. "That was an unbelievable, once in a lifetime experience," said Federer. "My friend, Tiger Woods, had hit a golf ball off there a few months earlier, so the Tour [tennis's ATP World Tour] thought maybe it was something they could do with tennis. "When Agassi came for the first time, they thought, as I spend lots of time here, 'Let's welcome him, take him up to the Burj al Arab and show him what Dubai is all about'. "They made it look like it was a normal tennis court, and they have since had people turning up at the hotel and saying they want to play tennis upstairs. "They tell them they haven't actually got tennis courts and they say, 'No, we have seen the pictures'. Then they have to explain it is a helipad. "Some of the ball-boys and ball-girls jumped over the side going after the balls and we couldn't find them." As arguably the best tennis player ever to wield a racket, Federer is happy he is now the one calling the shots when it comes to his commercial activities. He said: "I used to have to travel halfway round the world for a photo shoot - now they all come to me. That is good because I can conserve energy. "My sponsors are the first people to know the most important thing is that I am successful on the tennis court." Despite a lavishly-decorated career, Federer still has goals yet to achieve. His long-term aim is to retain the Olympic title he won in Beijing last summer when the Games take place in London, with tennis to be staged on the grass at Wimbledon. "I still feel like I have got many years ahead of me and it is most important to stay healthy so that I can chase those dreams," he adds. "I'm obviously disappointed I couldn't play in Dubai, but I am very confident about this year. I had back problems towards the end of last year that I want to get right. "I am only going to play tournaments when I am 100 per cent fit, when last year I played matches where I didn't feel particularly great. "It will make a big difference for me, this year and for the following years."