Dubai Open director Salah Tahlak believes that the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are close to the end of their careers and will hang up their boots soon. He expects Federer to last two more years, with Nadal also following suit.
The Swiss ace was crowned the oldest player to don the world number one rank following his participation in the Rotterdam Open and was expected to make the trip to Dubai, but decided to pull out at the last moment. Federer beat archrival Nadal to the top of the rankings table, having closed the gap to only 155 points after winning the Australian Open.
The 36-year-old has been a regular at the Dubai Open, winning the title seven times in his career but decided to opt out of this year's event as he wanted to spend more time with his family. Tahlak, despite being disappointed at the turn of events, expects Federer to be available for the tournament next year.
The director had great words for the current stalwarts but has also backed the new generation to pull through and fill the void left by the veterans when they eventually leave. He had a few words of warning for the upcoming stars though, stating that they need to focus on their fitness rather than play lucrative exhibition games during the off-season.
"Like in football, in a way, the players will all fade out one day, they're all going to go," Tahlak said, as quoted by the National. "So we have to accept that. We've been good for many years and I believe we should focus on the new generation.
"The head of the ATP, Chris Kermode, he's promoting a lot of the next generation, so we should do that. Because for how many more years will Roger last? Two more? And even Nadal, all of them. They're coming to the end of their careers.
"But we should think of others. They're doing well, we should not underestimate them. We have Dimitrov. The fans should understand tennis is like any other sport. It moves up and down. This is the game.
"And another problem is that a lot of players also play [exhibitions] in the off-season. That gives them more money, but also more injuries and more risk to their health. Financially, it means a lot for them, but also a risk of injuries. And that's what we're all suffering from, the other tournaments."