Federer aims for title in Istanbul
AA PhotoTennis great Roger Federer will be competing for a title in a 19th country when he heads the lineup at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open this week as Turkey hosts its first ATP World Tour event.
The world number two has won 84 titles in 18 countries on the ATP World Tour during his Hall of Fame career, and is looking forward to the prospect of adding an 85 title and 19th country to the list.
Federer endured a tough start to his clay-court season in 2015, losing in the round-of-16 to Gael Monfils at the Monte Carlo Masters, and will now try to make up for it at the Garanti Koza Arena in Istanbul.
The Swiss legend is the only top-10 player in the 28-man field – with world number 11 Grigor Dimitrov the second seed.
“I always play the tournaments to win them,” said the 23-year-old Bulgarian from Haskovo. “No matter who the other opponents are, my goal is the same in Istanbul.”
Tournament organizers of the ATP 250 event could have their dream match-up in the second round, with Federer potentially to play Turkey’s top player, Marsel İlhan.
İlhan is the No. 1 player in Turkey at No. 84, and recently reached a career-high No. 77 on March 2.
The 27-year-old reached the quarterfinals in Dubai and was runner-up on home soil at the Mersin Challenger two weeks ago.
Istanbul resident İlhan will first have to beat Jarkko Nieminen to earn a clash with Federer, who has a first-round bye.
The other Turkish player in the field is local wild card Cem İlkel, a 19-year-old ranked No. 423. İlkel, who will make his ATP World Tour main draw debut when he plays Daniel Gimeno-Traver, is also a member of the Turkish Davis Cup team.
İlhan and İlkel will also compete for the doubles title.
Also bypassing the first round are Dimitrov, third-seed Pablo Cuevas and fourth-seed Santiago Giraldo.
Other seeds in the draw include Andreas Haider-Maurer, Mikhail Kukushkin, Mikhail Youzhny and Diego Schwartzman.
Among the wildcard recipients to gain entry into the main draw at the Koza World of Sports facility are teenager Andrey Rublev and Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Rublev, a 17-year-old from Russia, has won three main-draw matches in 2015, including an upset of Fernando Verdasco at the Barcelona Open last week.
TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open will be played at the Garanti Koza Arena, which is being promoted as the largest tennis academy in the world.
The Center Court features a retractable roof and will provide seating for 7,500 spectators. Two other clay show courts have available seating for 9,500 spectators, and the clubhouse features a fitness center, spa, swimming pool and restaurant.
The tournament will be broadcast live on NTV Spor.