Federer survives scare to advance in Dubai Tennis Championships

Switzerland's Roger Federer serves against Malek Jaziri as he eyes his sixth Dubai Tennis Championships title

Story highlights

  • Roger Federer comes from a set down to beat Malek Jaziri
  • Defending champion will face Marcel Granollers or Albert Montanes in second round
  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic plays childhood friend Viktor Troicki on Tuesday

As he admitted himself this week, Roger Federer has no idea how long his career may last but tennis fans in Dubai were guaranteed another chance to see him after the Swiss survived a first round scare against Tunisia's Malek Jaziri.

The reigning champion -- bidding for his sixth title at the Dubai Tennis Championships -- had to come from behind to win 5-7 6-0 6-2 against the World No. 128, who was playing his first ATP World Tour match since October.

"It was a difficult match for me out here tonight, but I'm happy I found a way and got a day off now so I can work a little bit on the game," said Federer, who beat Andy Murray in last year's final.

"Just maybe the pressure is off a little bit, and then automatically I will play a lot better in the second round."

In the run-up to Monday's game, Federer -- who will play either Marcel Granollers or Albert Montanes (both of Spain) in the next round -- revealed he will undertake a far lighter schedule this year.

The 31-year-old will take nearly two months off after the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which runs from March 4-17, before returning in May to play the Madrid Open.

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The Swiss says the break will allow him to take a holiday with his wife and twin three-year-old daughters before spending 4-6 weeks practising on clay courts in Switzerland.

"The last few years have been really tricky in terms of my practice schedule, especially through an Olympic year [in 2012]," said the 17-time grand slam winner. "This year is totally different. Family is very important, so I also want to spend quality time with them."

"I can't play a year like I did last year every single season because that isn't the point I'm at in my career. I'm not 22 where I have to play 25-30 tournaments a year. Plus, I believe I'll be really ready for the tournaments I've entered."

Federer is planning to play just 14 tournaments in 2013, even dropping his home town event in Basel and the Miami tournament, which has often been described as the biggest outside the four grand slams.

Read: Kvitova ends drought with Dubai title

Federer, who won Wimbledon but lost the Olympic final last year, may be vying for the top honours with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray but his chances of success are threatened by being nearly five years more senior than the next oldest.

"I'm trying to be smart with my scheduling because I'm in a totally different situation than they are," he said.

"Your prime is 23 to 27-28 so for me it's very challenging -- and exciting. I need to make the right decisions. I have family and not many guys have that."

Considered by many as the greatest of all time, Federer stressed that his lighter workload is intended to prolong his playing career and insists it is not a sign of him winding down.

"I strongly believe I have more slams in me," he rallied. "I can play great, but will I be allowed to? Time will tell.

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"My big focus is on making sure that every tournament I enter I am perfectly prepared. I am hopeful I will get enough matches but if not my schedule can be changed."

"I want to give myself the best chance to play as long as I can. Maybe then it will become clear that it is time to stop. Things change very quickly, and you have to be ready and open about it.

"But I would like to give myself the chance to play for many years to come. I am happy with the way my body is. I am healthy and happy to be playing.

"If I feel confident and am enjoying it, I hope to play for a long time. I think I am playing excellent tennis. Some win grand slams at 16 and others at 34. It depends how you see things."

In Monday's other opening games of the US$2.4m championships, seventh seed Andreas Seppi of Italy turned around a 0-4 losing run against Paul-Henri Mathieu to beat the Frenchman 6-3 7-5.

Seppi will next play Czech Lukas Rosol, who beat Italian qualifier Matteo Viola 6-3 7-5, while Russia's Mikhail Youzhny beat Blaz Kavcic 1-6 6-1 6-3.

Next up for Youzhny will be Daniel Brands, who beat fellow qualifier Florent Serra 7-6 (7) 6-4, while Roberto Bautista of Spain made it through when beating Belgium's David Goffin in straight sets.

On Tuesday, the 32-man field will be further whittled down -- with Novak Djokovic among those entering the action, with the World No. 1 taking on fellow Serb, and childhood friend, Viktor Troicki.


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