Federer counsels Australian officials not to worry

January 17th, 2009 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererMelbourne, Jan 17 (DPA) World No.2 Roger Federer has told officials at the AAMI Classic tennis tournament not to panic over reports that Middle Eastern money will swamp the traditional Australian Open tune-up events.”I told them not to be concerned,” said the Swiss, who has again perfected his game at the eight-man special event at Kooyong Club, the former home of the Open until two decades ago.

Australian officials have gone to panic stations after a one-two punch from the Gulf, where a rich exhibition featuring Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray was played in early January for the first time.

That was followed by the ATP Doha tournament, won by Murray, the Abu Dhabi champion.

Locals fear that Australia will not be able to compete on price and that player fields at ATP and WTA events will be decimated. This year, the AAMI event is missing former regular Andy Roddick, with Murray also choosing not to come back after playing in 2008.

The Swiss star, who trains in Dubai, said that the perceived threat from the Gulf may just be a short-term phenomenon. “I don’t understand all the people, the exhibition match in Abu Dhabi freaks everybody out down here, I’m quite surprised.

“I still believe guys like Murray, Blake, Roddick, are kind of hanging around but not playing (this week). Maybe a few of them might have liked to play this event but entered too late and maybe they are regretting it.

“I told (AAMI organiser) Colin (Stubs) to wait a couple of years and see how it goes. Abu Dhabi maybe won’t happen every single year, so there’s no reason to panic.”

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