The ATP tournament in Dubai this week just doesn’t feel the same with Roger Federer.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who has won this tournament seven times, is currently out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the tour.
Dubai still has plenty of juice with Novak Djokovic participating. He’s playing his first tournament since capturing his sixth Australian Open title in January.
After defeating Tommy Robredo, 6-1, 6-2, in the first round on Monday, the world No. 1 wished Federer a speedy recovery.
“I’m not pleased to hear what happened to him,” Djokovic told Sport 360°. “I hope he recovers fast, because we are not used to seeing him injured. He’s very fit, and he plays very well throughout the entire year. He’s very important for our sport. He’s [the] most successful player of this tournament.
“So for sure the tournament will miss him. Again, that doesn’t change much in the way I approach this tournament. I will try to go as far as I can, you know, even with him not playing here.”
Djokovic, like Federer, has had plenty of success in Dubai in his career. The Serb was the last man standing at the event from 2009-11, and he won the title again in 2013.
Federer defeated Djokovic in the Dubai final last year, and topped him in the semifinals the year prior.
Djokovic will play Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri in the second round. A victory over Jaziri will give the 11-time Grand Slam champion the 700th singles victory of his career.
Follow Brad on Twitter @brad_kallet.