Halle, Germany (heinnews) – One night after picking up the pieces from five-time winner Roger Federer pulling out of the Gerry Weber Open, tournament officials on Tuesday said they will be sticking with the record Grand Slam champion but at the same time go after another big name for the Wimbledon warm-up, mentioning both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“We slept it over a night but it was still a shock for me. It came out of nowhere,” GWO tournament director Ralf Weber told a press conference in Halle.
“We had everything ready for him, the private jet, his room, his maid … I was stunned and disappointed.”
Federer pulled out of the tournament late Monday citing a sore groin after reaching Sunday’s final of the French Open, which he lost to Nadal in four sets. Federer, who has won the Gerry Weber Open five times since 2003, also pulled out of the 2009 GWO after winning the French Open.
“We all know that the further he advances in Paris the less likely he will come here,” said Weber.
“The Gerry Weber Open is not Wimbledon and we have to accept that.”
Federer and the Gerry Weber Open signed a so-called “life-time contract” last year with the intention of bringing the Swissman to Halle each year for the rest of his career.
“We have a strong connection – he has been here since he was 19 years old. He has done more for the Gerry Weber Open than any other player. We have gained an international reputation through him. He has helped us a lot,” said Weber of Federer.
Weber admitted that the tournament has taken a risk in focusing so much attention on just one player as they have with Federer.
But they do not want to do that in the future as Weber said he is committed to bringing in another big-name player.
“We would like to go after the other top players like Djokovic and Nadal. It’s a tug of war for the top players for sure. The chances are good as both players have been here before (Djokovic in 2009, losing final to Tommy Haas; Nadal in 2005, losing in the first round). Neither of the players have contracts with (the tournament in) Queens. We will try to get at least one of the top players,” said Weber.