Tennis: Lung infection forces Federer to withdraw from Dubai tournament
Roger Federer has been forced to withdraw from the Dubai tennis championships starting today because of a lung infection, the 16-time grand slam winner confirmed at the weekend.
"I can't play, it's too risky," Federer said. "(It is) a lung infection. It's the first time I've had it. The breathing was difficult. I'm still very tired and a bit slow with everything."
The Swiss aims to return to competition at the World Tour Masters tournament in Indian Wells in California starting on March 11, but said he would not take any chances after a bout of glandular fever disrupted his preparations for the 2008 season.
That year Federer lost his No 1 world ranking to Spain's Rafael Nadal. He reclaimed top spot in July 2009 after winning his sixth Wimbledon title in an epic encounter with American Andy Roddick.
"Indian Wells, I hope to be back," Federer said about a comeback . "Right now, there's no guarantee. I will do tests and see what the doctors say."
The 28-year-old's absence offers Britain's Andy Murray an easier path to the Dubai final; the duo had been due to meet at the semi-final stage.
Murray will take on Russian qualifier Igor Kunitsyn in today's first round. The world No 4 will be looking to bounce back after being runner-up at January's Australian Open, his second grand-slam-final defeat to Federer. Murray sees positives in that tournament.
"The Australian Open was great, the whole trip went really well -- I lost to the greatest player of all time in the final and had a few chances," Murray said.
"There are definitely things I can improve on, but I think it was a positive tournament."
Venus Williams, meanwhile, powered to a 6-3 7-5 win over Victoria Azarenka to win her second successive Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships title on Saturday.
The third seed took the opening set courtesy of a single break in game seven and led 3-1 in the second before the Belarusian launched a comeback.
Azarenka, seeded fourth, broke back and was level at 5-5 before world No 5 Williams' second break of the set left her to successfully serve out the match.
"I expected her to come out and play well. I respect her game and the effort she gives. Even though I was leading in the second set, she just never gave up," said Williams.
"Obviously I'm happy to close the tournament out. I've had a lot of success here the last two years, and I enjoy my time off the courts too so playing well here makes it even more satisfying for me."