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Federer seeks home comfort

Federer is yet to win a match in Gstaad

(Keystone)

After narrowly missing out on a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer is back on home soil this week. The Basel teenager joins a talented field of 32 players contesting the Swiss Open clay tournament in Gstaad.

Four of the world's top ten players will be in the Bernese Oberland competing for a total prize fund of $600,000. Russian world number three Marat Safin is the tournament's top seed, followed by Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero (ATP 4), France's Sébastien Grosjean (ATP 8) and Spanish defending champion Alex Corretja (ATP 9).

As fifth seed, Federer (ATP 15) appears to have a good chance of improving on his dismal record at Gstaad. This will be the Swiss number one's fourth appearance at the tournament and he is yet to celebrate his first win.

Having ousted Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, Federer will be keen to make more headlines this week in Switzerland. But it remains to be seen if the Swiss star has recovered sufficiently from his exertions in London and how quickly he can readapt to playing on clay.

If Federer manages to see off Croatia's Ivar Ljubicic in his first round tie, the stage could be set for an interesting all-Swiss encounter with former number one Marc Rosset.

Rosset, who had announced his immediate retirement from the game after suffering a first round defeat at Wimbledon, has now decided to postpone any final decision until after the Swiss tournament.

The 30-year-old Genevan comes up against Argentina's Gaston Gaudio (ATP 39) in the opening round. A defeat for Rosset would be his seventh in succession and would almost certainly confirm his retirement plans.

Federer and Rosset will be joined by four other Swiss players in the main draw.
Along with Bern's Michel Kratochvil and wild card entries George Bastl and Ivo Heuberger, Lorenzo Manta on Sunday became the first Swiss in 15 years to make it through the tournament's three qualifying rounds.

Manta (ATP 232) easily overcame Australia's Nathan Healey (ATP 1187) in the final qualifying round to book his place in the first round proper.

The event's organisers will be keeping a wary eye on the weather all this week, following the miserable conditions that threatened to wash out last year's competition.

With constant downpours plaguing the 2000 event, the final had to be held on the Monday following the event's scheduled finish.

swissinfo with agencies


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