Tennis

Federer vows to return to Asia

2011-11-21 10:05
Roger Federer (File)
London - Roger Federer insists he has no intention of snubbing his Asian fans even though his decision not to play in the Far East this year has sparked a late-season revival.

Federer missed the recent tournaments in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai in a bid to recover physically and mentally after a heart-breaking US Open semi-final defeat against Novak Djokovic.

The 30-year-old has traditionally played most of the events on the Asian leg of the ATP Tour, but his decision to opt out looked an inspired move after he won back to back titles in Basel and Paris on his return to action.

That sparked fears among the Swiss star's army of fans in Thailand, Japan and China that he may take the same decision next year.

However, Federer who kicked off his bid for a record sixth ATP Tour Finals crown with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at London's O2 Arena on Sunday, is adamant he still plans to return to Asia.

"It's definitely helped me and it was necessary because I was hurting a lot after the US Open and Davis Cup. I was having pains in my body which needed some rest," Federer said.

"Also looking ahead of next year, because it's an Olympic year next year, I just felt like I needed some time off.

"I do have a family and I have so many other things going on that sometimes I just need to get away from it all.

"I've had a very busy year. I've played a lot of matches again. So that was the reason.

"But this hopefully is not a trend for the Asian swing because I care too much about the Asian market and the Asian tournaments.

"I don't think I'm playing great tennis just now because of me missing Shanghai. I don't see it that way."

Defending champion Federer struggled to subdue Tsonga at times on Sunday, but showed his killer instinct to finally finish him off when the Frenchman produced a sloppy service game at 4-5 in the final set.

After the match, the 16-time Grand Slam winner met up with former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry, who watched the match from Federer's courtside box even though his compatriot Tsonga was on the other side of the net.

"I think he was happy I won. He wasn't crying when I came into the locker room!" Federer said of Henry.

"We're good friends. He's just happy to come and see me play once in a while. We missed each other in New York even though we were both there so it was nice again to catch up with him.

"He's a nice and friendly guy. I'm sure he hopes that I win but it's more about seeing each other really."

Tsonga has lost all three of his meetings with Federer since coming from two sets down to beat him in the Wimbledon quarter-finals earlier this year.

He felt this defeat, which followed losses to Federer at the US Open and in the Paris Masters final, was especially frustrating because the world number four needed a lucky return off the frame of his racket to seal the win.

"I just missed one volley and then on the match point, he returned with the frame. That's tennis, sometimes it can go really quickly," Tsonga said.

"In the first set I didn't get a ball in but in the second I was much better.

"I know I can play like this the entire match so I'm disappointed because I didn't do that. I hope for the rest of the tournament I will."

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