Roger Federer will begin his bid to regain the world No 1 position from Rafael Nadal when the 2009 mens circuit gets underway at the Qatar Open from Monday.
The opening week of the ATP World Tour could see the two rivals meet for the first time since their sensational Wimbledon final six months ago. However,the duo will be wary of the threat posed by Andy Murray after he beat both to win the Abu Dhabi exhibition event on Saturday.
Last years four-hour 45-minute Wimbledon epic was won 9-7 in the final set by Nadal,though it was Federer who produced the most memorable quote. From my point of view many people left feeling sorry for me instead of being happy for Rafa which hurts, he said.
An ATP poll of 65,000 people recently showed that 44 per cent believe Federer will regain the top spot he held for a record 237 weeks,and the Doha event could indicate whether they are right.
34 per cent thought Nadal would go on to become the first left-hander to finish world number one in back-to-back years since John McEnroe in 1981-84.
Some people paint an even gloomier future for Federer,believing the loss of two Grand Slam titles in 2008,plus the failure to win any Masters Series,and a defeat at the Olympics indicate psychological and physical decline.
Nadal is not one of those. Federer is Federer,and when people said he is finished,Ive always denied it,not only because I knew he was going to win big tournaments again,but also because I considered him the best player of all time.