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Fitness fears for Federer-Nadal tennis match at Cape Town stadium

Fitness fears for Federer-Nadal tennis match at Cape Town stadium

Cape Town – With VIP front-row packages still available at R50 000 per person, the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Match in Africa is the hottest ticket in the country.

Cheaper tickets that went on sale at Computicket outlets last year were sold out within 10 minutes. With the 48 000-seater Cape Town Stadium event set to take place next week Friday, however, the fitness of 20-time grand slam champion Federer is a major concern.

Despite groin and leg pain forcing him to take a rare medical timeout, Federer made a miracle escape in five sets on Tuesday against American Tennys Sandgren in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open. 

That made it 1 511 matches in which Federer has never retired hurt from a match in a professional career spanning four decades.

Surviving seven match points in the process, Federer said after the match: “I was starting to feel my groin and my leg tighten up. 

"I was really struggling on defence but I really don’t like calling the trainer ever because, sign of weakness and all that stuff. I try not to show it."

Doubts have been expressed whether Federer's achy, 38-year-old body will be in the right condition to take on No 1 seed Novak Djokovic in their semifinal tomorrow.

Though Federer played down the injury after his quarterfinal match, he opted to skip practice on Wednesday after he visibly struggled to get around the court before turning it around to earn a semi-final shot at Djokovic.

If the match does take place, those hoping to see Federer and Nadal in action in Cape Town next week will be praying the Swiss doesn't sustain further damage against Djokovic, who is known to be the best mover in the game and is bound to make Federer run as much as possible.

Federer recently withdrew from the inaugural ATP World Team Cup tournament in Australia, citing a need not to overextend himself prior to the Australian Open.

Last month, Federer and German Alexander Zverev's match, which was part of a multi-million dollar exhibition circuit in South America during the off-season, was abandoned because of disturbances in Bogota after tens of thousands of tickets had already been sold in the Colombian capital.

With the Roger Federer Foundation having helped to stage the Cape Town exhibition in aid of charity, which will finance education activities in underprivileged African countries, the never-say die Federer is unlikely to easily opt out of the event.

South Africa is close to Federer's heart – it will be the first time he will be playing in the country.

With 48 000 spectators due to watch Nadal and Federer in Cape Town, it will surpass the 42 000 that attended an exhibition game at a bullring in Mexico City when Federer beat Zverev in Mexico City.

Cape Times