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Stich's delight as Federer returns to Hamburg

sports Updated: Jul 14, 2013 21:41 IST
Hamburg ATP clay-court event

Tournament director Michael Stich has said he is delighted tennis star Roger Federer has returned, after a five-year absence, to help boost the profile of the Hamburg ATP clay-court event which starts on Monday.

The 31-year-old, who last played at Hamburg when he lost the 2008 final to Rafael Nadal, is using Hamburg and the Gstaad tournament, which starts on July 22, to bounce back from his shock Wimbledon exit ahead of next month's US Open.

Having last held Masters status on the ATP tour back in 2008, Hamburg has since been demoted to a World Tour 500 event, which has seen spectator numbers dwindle.

But its profile this year has been boosted by the presence of top seed Federer as well as Poland's Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz, seeded fourth, and Germany's Tommy Haas, the second seed.

Federer suffered a shock second-round Wimbledon exit to Sergiy Stakhovsky and has a bye to face either Italy's Paolo Lorenzi or Germany's Daniel Brand, neither of whom are ranked in the world's top 50, in Hamburg's second round.

"At Wimbledon, it was strange to go out so early and I didn't know what to do," said Federer, ranked fifth in the world, who has won the Hamburg title four times.

"But I had a clear plan 48 hours later to play at Hamburg and Gstaad."

Stich subsequently wasted no time exploiting the presence of the 17-time Grand Slam winner back in the Hanseatic City.

For the last ten days, the Swiss star's image has been on posters around the city promoting the tournament.

"I am very pleased that we can present probably the best player of all time, Roger Federer, to tennis fans at Rothenbaum this year," said Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion.

"I have always said that it's our goal to once again get a top player of this magnitude to Hamburg.

"That we have succeeded in doing that this year is, of course, all the better."

Having lost out to Stuttgart for the right to host a grass-court Wimbledon warm-up for 2015, Federer's presence will hopefully draw fans to help balance the books with his appearance fee being paid by a group of tournament sponsors.

His shock Wimbledon exit ended Federer's run of 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearances, having not gone out of a major before the last eight since the 2004 French Open.