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Federer hails 'tremendous' Dubai title run for Hopman Cup teammate Bencic

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 26 Feb 2019
  • Roger Federer hails Belinda Bencic's Dubai title run: 'I thought the way she did it was tremendous'
  • Federer praised his Hopman Cup teammate's 'exhilarating matches' on her way to the Premier-5 title
Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic celebrate winning the Hopman Cup together (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Roger Federer has praised his compatriot Belinda Bencic for winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

'I thought the way she did it was tremendous,' Federer said of his Hopman Cup teammate's run to the title at the WTA Premier-5 event last week. 

Federer was asked about Bencic, his younger compatriot, ahead of his fourteenth appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

Bencic, who has twice teamed up with Federer to win the Hopman Cup, won the WTA Tour event played the week before the ATP tournament.

Bencic celebrates victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (Photo by KARIM SAHIB / AFP) 
Federer has won the ATP 500 event in Dubai a record seven times, but Bencic was the first Swiss woman since Martina Hingis in 2001 to triumph at the WTA tournament.

'Look, I definitely didn’t expect it. I still think, like she also thought, it was sort of work in progress, her whole comeback,' Federer said. 

'This is what sports does, they write great stories.'

Her triumph was particularly impressive because of the way that she won the Premier-5 event. The unseeded Bencic saved six match points to beat world no. 9 Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16 before going on to beat three more top-10 players - Simona Halep, two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina and Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova - to claim the title. 

'I think it’s nice that things fell into place maybe a little bit earlier than she expected. I thought the way she did it was tremendous, beating four top-10 players in exhilarating matches, to be honest. I think that was wonderful for her,' Federer said.

It was the joint-biggest title of Bencic's career and marked the former US Open quarterfinalist's return to the upper echelons of the WTA after struggling with foot and wrist injuries which saw her ranking drop outside the top 300. 

'I’m happy for her, number one, that she’s healthy. I remember she called me in Miami last year and she said, "My foot was hurting." My physio took a look and said, "It’s not great, I’m sorry to tell you, but you need some more time off",' Federer recalled.

'And this is after the wrist issues she had before. It was hard for her. She came back for the French, even though she wasn’t ready yet. All that stuff lingers for a long time. I think she’s coming from far behind. She tried things out with her team. Also just in her game, I guess.'

Federer, who lives part of the year in Dubai, said he saw Bencic frequently during last week's event.

Federer has won the ATP title in Dubai seven times (KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
'I saw her briefly. It was déjà vu. Every day I saw her at the courts, every day I congratulated her, every day she went on to win the next one. And then the next day I saw her at lunch, and I quickly saw her after the finals before she left,' the 37-year-old said.

'She was so happy. It was a pleasure to see her play a little bit, and also happy that everything is coming together with her father and her fitness coach right now.'

Bencic, who said she was trying to be as calm as Federer ahead of the Dubai final, spoke of how significant playing the Hopman Cup has been in her journey back to her best form.

'It would be wrong if it didn't help me,' she said after beating Halep in the quarterfinals

'I definitely think the Hopman Cup gives me so much. It's actually my favorite event of the year, just playing with all those champions. There were so many this year; it's amazing to playing against them and with them. You can learn really so much. The event is just full of energy. It's great.'

Federer will capture his 100th career title if he can triumph at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week, as well as bringing his haul of trophies at the event to a total of eight. The second seed, who slipped to world no. 7 in the rankings after his Australian Open title defense ended in a fourth-round defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Monday to open his campaign. His next match is against Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday.

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Federer hails 'tremendous' Dubai title run for Hopman Cup teammate Bencic

Roger Federer paid tribute to compatriot Belinda Bencic after his Hopman Cup teammate beat four top-10 players to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, calling the result 'wonderful' and 'exhilarating'

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