DUBAI (AFP) — Roger Federer, who has always previously said that an Olympic gold medal is one of his biggest goals, has cast doubt on whether he would play in the Beijing Olympic Games in August.
Federer was a little disillusioned with his experience at the Athens four years ago where he lost early on to Tomas Berdych and feels that some of the shortcomings of those Games might be repeated in China.
The world No.1 from Switzerland said he felt that there were several difficulties, apart from the breeze, and he would like to consider avoiding a repeat.
"It was quite difficult in Athens," Federer said. "Taking the bus and not being in control of my own schedule, and many people recognising me in the village.
"It was not as enjoyable as Sydney, which I loved. I still have not made up my mind (whether to play in Beijing)," he added, perhaps concerned as to whether there would be traffic and commuting problems for visiting athletes.
Asked about the inconvenience of being so often recognised, Federer elaborated by saying: "Every time I go to eat everyone taps on your shoulder. I don't mind it but I wish it was different one day of the week."
Avoiding recognition is also one of the reasons why he makes Dubai his training base, Federer admitted.
It is an arrangement which may help him deal with the rare situation in which he find himself this week.
The world's best player finds himself playing one of the world's most up-and-coming players, Andy Murray in the first round of the Dubai Open - a situation which could only happen here in this very unusual tournament.
That is because the record appearance money gives it an entry similar to the top half of a Master Series, or top quarter of a Grand Slam. But it is a third level tournament's 32 draw with only eight seeds.
Murray, the world number 12 from Scotland, is therefore likely to be a tougher first test than Federer will get anywhere, especially as he has not competed since being beaten by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open more than six weeks ago.
"I am happy to be back playing again because I have been away from the tour and it's not easy. This is only my second tournament in four months.
"But I am back stronger and healthier than I was in Australia. Hopefully this time I will feel better."
This was as close as Federer got to admitting that his performances in Melbourne might have been affected by having been ill, as had been rumoured, though when asked about this directly he deflected it.
"I just felt slow in the semi-final," he said. "I really doubt that it was because of the Tipsarevic match (a hard five sets) because I was feeling like that against Berdych.
"By the Djokovic match I was completely fine again. I just wasn't happy with my movement and defensive skills. Maybe it (losing) was because of that. Djokovic played well on the big points."
Federer also has to consider that the last time he played Murray, 19 months ago in the Masters Series in Cincinnati, he lost. Federer was below par then too, but Murray took his chance exceedingly well.
"I have definitely improved since then no question about that," said the 20-year-old Murray.
"He didn't play his best match then. But I have a good game and can cause problems. It's important to do well."
Asked if Federer's lack of match play would work in his (Murray's) favour, he replied: "He's not played since Australia but he's played here and won four times and made the final once so I don't think it makes much difference to him.
"He's beaten much better players than me and had better matches, but for him this is an important match too, so we will see how my game matches up against the best in the world.
"And when I come off the match court I will have a lot to work on after a match like this."
Murray's credentials were given a boost when Rafael Nadal, the second seed in the other half, said: "Andy has the potential to be one, two or three in the world, so for sure he can beat Roger."
If Nadal gets the semi-final he should, it will be an encounter with Djokovic, who has been trying to recover from sickness much of the time since his life-changing triumph in Australia.
"Unfortunately every time I come back from a long trip and back to a different climate, it happens," he said. "Unfortunately I am a little sensitive, tiny and not a strong organism.
"But I am trying to recover as much as possible. I get sick so often I'm surprised when I am healthy - no I am joking."
The world number three from Serbia plays Marin Cilic, the world number 45 from Croatia, in the first round.
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