Why Roger Federer is a perfect fit for the UAE Royals
Dubai-based UAE Royals have been part of the International Premier Tennis League since its inception last year. One of the league’s four charter teams, it is owned by two Indian businessmen, and this year announced India’s ODI Captain Virat Kohli as another co-owner.
In the second season of the IPTL, the team will be headlined by one of the greatest players we have seen in the history of tennis, if not the greatest. The Swiss Maestro himself, Roger Federer, was brought into the team this year as its marquee signing.
Staying true to its name, the team features true tennis royalty - boasting two former World No. 1 singles players; accompanying Federer is former women’s no. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who was also Federer’s teammate last year (in the Indian Aces).
The UAE Royals were runners-up in the inaugural season of the league, pipped to the post by the Indian Aces, led at the time by Federer himself. But the Royals have reason to believe they are the favourites to take home the trophy this year, mainly because of the aura that Federer brings to any situation he is part of.
To say that the 34-year-old Swiss is a welcome addition to the team is an understatement. Unarguably the most popular and iconic player on the team - and in the league, Federer holds 17 Grand Slam titles in his 17-year career so far among myriad records in the Open Era.
The Dubai connection
But it’s Federer’s deep-seated connection with the UAE that makes this such a perfect fit. The Swiss legend has a kind of second home in Dubai, and he’s been known to spend week after week training in the sweltering conditions of the emirate country. Federer’s practice drills in the desert have given him the ability to withstand difficult conditions during his matches on the tour, and also helped increase his stamina.
Then there’s his success in the country. Federer is the most decorated champion of the ATP 500 tournament held in Dubai every February, and no one is even close. A seven-time winner at the event which usually boasts of a strong field, Federer has made this event a bit of his personal playground.
The team dynamics in the UAE Royals would suit Federer too. The side were among the strongest at last year’s edition, both on paper and in practice. Featuring former No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic and the talented Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, the team took apart some of the game’s most well-known, experienced players in history - Andre Agassi, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
With hard hitters like Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic for company, Federer would have plenty of ammunition to support his title ambitions this year. His own artistry combined with Berdych’s and Cilic’s firepower would cause plenty of headaches for all opposition players in the league.
Tennis royalty meets political royalty
Moreover, the UAE Royals team is based in one of the richest, most opulent nations in the world. It’s also home to some of the wealthiest royalty on the planet. And Federer, as true tennis royalty, lording it among the pantheon of the greats, is right at home.
In a fitting swap, he replaces his long-time nemesis Novak Djokovic in the team, as another of his legendary rivals, Rafael Nadal replaces Federer in the Indian Aces!
The UAE Royals team comprises singles as well as doubles specialists, with Canada’s Daniel Nestor on the squad as well - giving them a well-rounded, perfectly honed attack against any opposition they may face.
The capital, Dubai, is also home to the world’s highest tennis court, at the Burj al Arab, befitting the stature of the team’s leading player.
From one home of luxury – Switzerland – to another, Federer is a perfect fit for the UAE Royals, who will hope to better their 2014 performance and win it all this year. With their firepower and the mammoth talent of Federer behind them, that doesn’t seem to be an impossible task.