Swiss star to make MercedesCup debut in Stuttgart this week
After winning 88 tour-level titles, Roger Federer still finds ways to experience new heights on the ATP World Tour.
On Monday, the World No. 3 ascended to the roof of the tallest residential building in downtown Stuttgart, the brand-new Cloud No 7 building 60 metres high. Federer hit balls with longtime friend Tommy Haas, who's from Hamburg.
The Swiss legend is returning to tour-level play this week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart after withdrawing from Roland Garros because of a back injury. It will mark the first time he's played at the event, which switched from clay to grass last year and kicks off this year's grass-court campaign.
“I actually quite enjoy it. I like to see nice views,” Federer said atop the residential building that also serves as a first-class hotel. “It's nice to be in the city centre and doing such an activity and officially launching the tournament.”
Federer last played in Stuttgart 15 years ago but at a completely different event. “It's nice to be back in a different context, doing something very cool,” he said.
The 34 year old said he's enjoyed the past couple weeks away from the game. The break allowed him to rehab his back and spend more time with his wife and four children. Federer, the top seed, receives a bye in the first round and is scheduled to play #NextGen star Taylor Fritz or French qualifier Fabrice Martin in the second round.
Federer, who's won 15 grass-court titles, also laid out his expectations for the week. “A good week is if I get on the match court and I play a match. A great week is if I get to the semis, and a dream one would be to win the tournament,” he said. “Crazier things have happened. I think everything's possible this week. At the moment I step on the grass court and I'm feeling somewhat fine, I will have my chances and I'm looking forward to that challenge.”
Haas, meanwhile, is trying to get back into playing shape. The former World No. 2 underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament and a ligament-like structure in his right foot in April. It was his ninth operation in the past 20 years. “I've had so many injuries. I've been away for so long so many times. In a way, I'm a little bit used to it,” he said.
Hitting with Federer on the roof and seeing the lush grass courts at the TC Weissenhof, the tournament site, tugged at Haas' competitive fibers. “But I also know what it means to go out there and play and try to prepare, try to feel fit, not only physically but also mentally," he said. "I haven't done that much in the last two years so I know it would also be very hard work.”
The 38 year old wants get healthy enough for one final comeback. “Hopefully I can play a few more events and say goodbye to my career in my own terms,” he said. “That's my goal but it's still a big question mark.”
Haas, who has won 15 tour-level titles, already has his future venture planned. On Friday, he was named the tournament director at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. [The appointment is subject to ATP and WTA Board approval.]
Berrer, Groth Advance At Stuttgart
Two main-draw singles matches took place on Monday. Stuttgart's Michael Berrer came back to beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4. Big-serving Aussie Sam Groth also moved into the second round. Groth hit 15 aces to beat Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-5, 6-4.