Roger Federer has defended his decision to pull out of the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia at the start of next season, despite signing up to a string of exhibitions either side of the event.
While he won’t travel to Australia early to compete in Sydney for ‘family reasons’, Federer will travel to China two days after Christmas to play in an exhibition event, while he’s scheduled multiple exhibition stops in South America following his participation in the ATP Finals in London next week, as well as a trip to South Africa – to play a match with great rival Rafael Nadal – after the Australian Open.
As a result of him pulling out, Switzerland – who were scheduled to be Great Britain’s first opponents – have now not qualified, with Stan Wawrinka also opting against playing the event.
At the time of his withdrawal, Federer said: ‘After much discussion with both my family and my team about the year ahead, I have decided that the extra two weeks at home will be beneficial for both my family and my tennis.
‘It pains me to not be a part of the most exciting new event on the calendar, but this is the right thing to do if I want to continue to play for a longer period of time on the ATP Tour.’
Quizzed over personal decisions really being the main motivation behind the decision, Federer defended the move and admitted the ATP Cup was the most expendable spot in his carefully devised calendar in order to make room for some extra family time.
‘When we had to sign up for the ATP Cup it was shortly after Wimbledon, for me it was always a logical to play the first week,’ he said at the O2 on Friday afternoon.
‘The South America exo tour was already long in scheduling, something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I couldn’t do it because of my knee, because of my children, couldn’t do it the year after or two years after because it was going to be too much.
‘South America was a priority for me. ATP Cup too to play the first week. Then when I realised Stan wasn’t gong to play, the family wasn’t going to travel to Sydney, I’d rather stay at home with the family. Train easy and make priority Australian Open and the World Tour Finals.
‘Got the dream match with Rafa on February 7, I’ve been trying to get a date with Rafa for last two or three years. That was always going to be a priority for me as well.
‘Something had to give, that was the ATP Cup. I just felt I was going to be very happy to play but it wasn’t that level of importance for me.
‘That was that. Normally I don’t take these kinds of decisions like this but I kind of got into that situation having to take a decision after Wimbledon.
‘And it was also a little bit connected – I know you might take this as a joke, but it’s not – to announcing Olympics. My family was always going to travel with me to Japan.
‘With my wife we try to come up with a really good schedule for the kids. At the end we weren’t ready to do. We wanted to be in the same place for a long time. I don’t think it’s contradictory at all.’
He will fly back to Dubai after his commitments in China, which will give him two extra weeks at home – something he says is ‘a lot for four children’ – and Federer is hopeful that the decision to not play a warm-up event for the Australian Open won’t come back to bite him, having always competed at the Hopman Cup in recent years.
‘Hope not. But at the end of the day I think with age and experience I can be confident about what I do in training,’ the Swiss world No. 3 added.
‘I’ll travel to Melbourne early to make sure I give myself the best chance to get ready.
‘I believe I can be ready, I don’t think I need a tonne of matches always, especially on the hard courts. Maybe I’m a bit more dependent on the draw earlier on in the Australian Open. The key is health. I don’t know what to tell you.’
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