Doha, Jan 4: He lost it to Rafael Nadal. Now its time to take back. Roger Federer will begin his battle to regain the world No.1 position from Rafa on Monday, Jan 5 in the 2009 Qatar Open. ATP World Tour opening could witness the two great rivals clast for the first time since their
sensational Wimbledon Final six month ago.
But Rafa and Federer will be wary of the threat posed by Andy Murray after the Scot beat both the players to win $250,000 Abu Dhabi exhibition event held on Saturday, Jan 3. 2008's four-hour 45-minute Wimbledon epic was won 9-7 in the final set by Nadal, though it was Federer who produced the most memorable quote.
He said, "From my point of view many people left feeling sorry for me instead of being happy for Rafa, which hurts."
A recent ATP poll conducted among over 65,000 people showed that 44 pc believe Federer will regain the top spot he held for a record 237 weeks. The Qatar Open will prove if they were right or not!
Against that, 34 percent thought Nadal would go on to become the first left-hander to finish world number one in back-to-back years since John McEnroe in 1981-84.
Rafael Nadal won 8 titles in 2008 and the credit of winning most matches also goes to him, 82. And he is only 22, which makes tennis experts believe that the best of Rafa is yet to come. Carlos Costa, Rafa's agent said, "I believe he could stay No.1 for two or three more years. He will have hard battle in 2009, but he is the best player right now."
Many predict even a poor future for Federer after his loss in two Grand Slam title in 08, plus his failure in Masters series and Beijing Olympics. But Rafa does not take these predictions. "Federer is Federer and when people say he is finished, I've always denied it not only because I knew he was going to win big tournaments again, but also because I considered him the best player of all time."
What worries Rafa is the series of injuries he had last year which forced him to pull out of Davis Cup finals. But after his 3-set defeat to Murray on Saturday, Jan 3 in UAE, Nadal said that he was happy with his health.
Many people believe 2009 can be best for Andy Murray and he can be the greatest threat for Federer and Rafa. After winning over Nadal, Murray said, "It's a great start to the year. I worked very hard on my fitness and game in Nov and Dec and both Rafa and Roger played great tennis, so I am delighted that I could beat them.
Doha Seeds: 1. Rafael Nadal (Spain); 2. Roger Federer (Switzerland); 3. Andy Murray (Britain); 4. Andy Roddick (United States); 5. Igor Andreev (Russia); 6. Dmitry Tursunov (Russia); 7. Philipp Kohlschreiber (German).
OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)