This is an interesting development. Thanks to meninosantos for posting it in the Fed forum.
Federer to Play Estoril – With Paris on his Mind
Swiss World Number One Adds Extra Clay Court Event to his 2008 Schedule
ATP World No. 1 Roger Federer is to play at the Estoril Open, between April 14-20, 2008, tournament director João Lagos revealed on Tuesday, September 18.
For the first time in five years, the Swiss star will add an extra clay court event to his European spring schedule. The ultimate goal: getting the best competitive preparation possible on the surface in order to have a better shot at the Roland Garros title – the only Grand Slam crown that has eluded him.
“When I saw Roger win the US Open in 2004, I was pretty much sure he was already playing the best, most complete game I had ever seen in my life”, said João Lagos, a former Portuguese champion. “Since then, he has consistently proven that he is the greatest player ever. Statistically, he is yet to surpass Sampras' Grand Slam tally; tennis-wise, Roger is already the best and no-one can argue against the stratospheric level of play he’s shown in the past years. I hope the Estoril Open can help Roger get the Roland Garros title missing in his resumé, and I am proud that he chose our tournament to complement his schedule.”
The last time Federer participated in a non-ATP Masters Series event on clay was at Gstaad in July 2004, the week after he captured his second Wimbledon title.
Novak Djokovic captured the 2007 Estoril Open title, beating Richard Gasquet in the final.
The event is traditionally a cradle for future French Open champions: Sergi Bruguera, Thomas Muster, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero won in Portugal before going on to succeed in Paris – even Gustavo Kuerten (1997) and Gaston Gaudio (2004) won the doubles at the Estoril Open the same year they lifted the Roland Garros singles crown.
David Nalbandian, Nikolay Davydenko, Carlos Moya, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Ignacio Chela, Alex Corretja, Alberto Berasategui, Andrei Medvedev, Carlos Costa and Emilio Sanchez are also among the tournament winners’ circle.
The Estoril Open is a combined ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event.