GERRY WEBER OPEN
Federer Signs Lifetime Agreement With Halle Tournament
by Press Release|
Roger Federer and the GERRY WEBER OPEN have signed a unique partnership for the remainder of Federer’s playing career. On Sunday, tournament director Ralf Weber and the Swiss signed an agreement which ensures Federer will participate in Germany’s only grass court tournament until he ends his career.
“I am delighted,” said the World No. 1. “It feels a bit like I am getting married. I wanted to plan more long-term. I want to build up friendships and I get on really well with Ralf and Gerhard Weber.”
“Germany’s tennis fans can be glad that they will get to see Roger playing at the GERRY WEBER OPEN for many more years to come,” said Ralf Weber. “I am convinced that he will be serving here still in 2015.” Weber and Federer signed the ‘Lifetime Contract’ in front of a mass collection of TV teams, reporters and photographers at the GERRY WEBER Sportpark Hotel in Halle (Westfalen).
“Halle has always been a really important tournament in my career,” explained the 28-year-old maestro, who has toppled record after record in recent years, leading the all-time list of most successful Grand Slam winners with 16 titles, including six to date at Wimbledon, four in Melbourne, five US Open triumphs and one French Open.
He added: “I have always been happy here, played successfully and gained momentum going into Wimbledon. Therefore, I would also like to continue this partnership”
Up to this Sunday, he had spent 285 weeks at the top of the world rankings and is therefore just a hair’s breadth away from catching his friend Pete Sampras (286). However, whether he breaks that record is not now in his hands: should eternal rival Rafael Nadal win the French Open today, Federer would drop to number two. “But my aim is to be at the top come the end of the year,” said the Swiss. He knew he would only be number one up to Wimbledon anyway since Nadal has no points to defend there, but he will definitely want to get back to the top as and when he drops a position. “Being number one remains my priority,” quipped Federer.
Federer has beaten the likes of Michael Schumacher and Tiger Woods to be named the (Laureus) World Sportsman of the Year four times and he has also been voted as Switzerland’s Sportsperson of the Year four times while he is the five-times International Tennis Federation (ITF) champion. “He is the greatest personality world tennis has ever had,” said tournament director Weber. “He is a man who has made tennis popular beyond its means.” Federer himself says the way the tournament in Halle (Westfalen) has evolved is “a great story”.
“What has been built here and what is done for the fans is simply fantastic,” he said.
Federer begins his latest GERRY WEBER OPEN campaign this Tuesday (June 8) at 16:00 against the Finnish left-hander Jarkko Nieminen. The tournament in East Westphalia, which is being staged for the 18th time in 2010, is now the only ATP event in Germany where the ‘Mozart of tennis’ (according to The Times) still plays. Federer says that the GERRY WEBER OPEN has always given him a good feeling. Furthermore, it is an ideal platform “to prepare perfectly for Wimbledon,” according to Weber.
Since 2003, Federer has won his favourite tournament on the annual tennis calendar five times and he has become a firm fans’ idol. “Roger has forged many friendly links in Halle. You can see how much he looks forward to taking part here each time, and how disappointed he was when that was not possible,” said Weber.
Federer arrived in Halle (Westfalen) with his wife Mirka and their twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva last Friday, and moved into his customary suite in the GERRY WEBER Sportpark Hotel. He has been training hard since arriving to be sharp for the first difficult task of the tournament. “I am happy not to have to listen to any more questions about sand courts and my form on sand,” he said. “That is now behind me and that’s just fine.”
At this year’s GERRY WEBER OPEN, he is particularly looking forward to Lleyton Hewitt’s participation. The Wimbledon champion from 2002 is taking part in Halle for the first time. “As soon as I heard that, I first asked myself: ‘does he have to?’” joked Federer. “But seriously: we played against each other for the first time when I was 15. I defended a match point and still won. Since then, our clashes have often been really tight.” Fortunately, a duel between the two is only possible in the final of the GERRY WEBER OPEN.