Exhibition event fine as it is, says beaten Federer

The world No 1 Roger Federer says he would question plans for the Capitala World Tennis Championship to bid for a place on the ATP Tour.

ABU DHABI // The world No 1 Roger Federer, having lost in the semi-finals for a second consecutive year, says while the Capitala World Tennis Championship is excellent preparation for the long season ahead, he would question plans for it to bid for a place on the ATP Tour. The Swiss, who lost to Scotsman Andy Murray at the same stage at the inaugural tournament last year, was defeated by Robin Soderling 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 in front of a sold-out crowd at Zayed Sports City International Tennis Complex yesterday.

Federer will now meet David Ferrer in the battle for third place this afternoon in a match he believes will benefit his game ahead of this month's Australian Open. "For me, it is not easy to start a season against such a good player," said Federer. "Last year, bang: Murray. This year, bang: Soderling. Both matches have been close, but losing is down to a lack of match play and it is all about getting into the rhythm, trying out a few things, making a few wrong decisions, especially on a quick court like this one.

"But it was good practice and with a crowd it is just so much more fun to play and you can build up momentum. "You go for a lot more crazy shots than you would in practice and sometimes maybe get a little carried away." One such "crazy shot" came in the fourth game of the third set. With Soderling having just broken the Swiss, Federer unsuccessfully attempted to replicate his through-the-legs strike that he pulled off to such great effect at the US Open in September.

"It's a lot of fun playing to this crowd, they seem very knowledgeable and it is not far from the place where I spend three months of the year [Dubai]. I am very happy to get a second chance to play in front of them - even though it's not the final." But when pressed on the possibility of the annual Capitala event joining the Tour, Federer, while praising the facilities, questioned the logic. "They have the site already, they wouldn't even have to put temporary stands in or anything," he said. "It is an ATP facility, but there are not many ATP slots available.

"For the past two years, people have came out and it seems they love to watch us play and if you look at the field that we have here, it is way better than many of the ATP events so you have to think whether it is really necessary to go to a tournament if the exhibition is doing so, so well." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae