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Federer begins training in Dubai, in attempt to play Australian Open
“He’s hit for the first time in Dubai,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
December 21, 2020
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Roger Federer has begun training in Dubai as he attempts to start his comeback at the Australian Open, but appears to still be undecided about his participation.
Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, speaking to press in Melbourne, confirmed that Federer is practicing on court.
“We have been in touch with him and his team and it’s been three days now, he’s hit for the first time in Dubai,” reported AFP.
The Australian Open has been delayed by three weeks to allow players to complete a two-week quarantine, followed by a week of warm-up events in Melbourne. The change in schedule is likely to be helpful for the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s recovery, according to Tiley.
Federer has not played a competitive tournament since reaching the semifinals at this year’s Australian Open, undergoing two surgeries on his left knee during the season.
“He did say to me the other day that the February the 8th date is probably a better option for him, as it just gives him a little more time to prepare,” said Tiley. “But a lot will depend on… the next two to three weeks of training.”
Federer, practicing ahead of the 2020 Australian Open. (Getty Images)
The current training block is aimed not just at the Australian Open, but at the season as a whole, according to one of Federer’s coaches. Ivan Ljubicic, as quoted by Gulf News, noted that not having “fixed points” has made it difficult to plan training sessions. Much of the schedule beyond the Australian Open has still to be decided or announced.
“We are moving forward trying to prepare for a normal year,” he said. “From December 14, we will be in Dubai to train.”
But the tournament has almost a complete field for the moment, though Tiley acknowledged that there could still be withdrawals.
“Every player, including Roger, has made a commitment to travel to Melbourne to play,” he said.
Only Fabio Fognini and Philipp Kohlschreiber do not appear in the starting men’s field, while all WTA players with high-enough rankings are entered on the women’s side.
Rafael Nadal, who is training at his academy in Mallorca during the off-season, has even chosen his practice partner for the first week of quarantine, according to Marca—the No. 2 will be training with Italian teenager Jannik Sinner. No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been hosting other Serbian players in a facility in Belgrade and also appears to have planned to play in Melbourne.
No. 3 Dominic Thiem has also committed to the ATP Cup warmup event before the Australian Open.