Looks like the rumours of Fed's appearance in Istanbul were true after all as it's just been confirmed he's playing the clay court tournament that starts on April 27th.
I wasn't sure what to believe when I first saw it reported as it only came from one news outlet, however it's now all over the Official ATP Istanbul Open Website / Facebook page and Fed even recorded a video announcing his participation:
With the Istanbul Open added to the schedule he's now playing Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome all prior to the French Open. That's the most clay court lead in tournaments he's played since 2008 where he played Monte Carlo, Estoril, Rome and Hamburg. And the last time he played a 250 clay event prior to the French he lost to Albert Montanes in Estoril (2010) 😀 His full spring / summer schedule is below:
- 23 Feb: Dubai
- 12 March: Indian Wells
- 12 April: Monte Carlo
- 27 April: Istanbul
- 3 May: Madrid
- 10 May: Rome
- 24 May: Roland Garros
- 15 June: Halle
- 29 June: Wimbledon
Quite a surprise really considering he said he would play less this year but will play 3 weeks in a row starting in Turkey. This is a new tournament so clearly needs a high profile player to help establish itself so the appearance fees are going to be juicy. And for those who love a match fixing conspiracy theory maybe Roger has a free pass to the final in this one from the tournament organisers 😉
Obviously impossible to say whether it's a good decision or not as we don't know what's to come so just have to roll with it. No doubt in 3 months times we'll all have an opinion on why playing Istanbul ruined his French Open or why all the clay court tournament practice paid off dividends for Roland Garros. Delete as applicable 😆
My opinion is I don't think it's too hectic a schedule as the dates this year fall pretty nicely. Halle and Wimbledon aren't really going to be compromised by the clay season due to the extra week in between so I don't really see fatigue being an issue for that. Playing Istanbul, Madrid and Rome all back to back is definitely a tough ask if he went deep at all 3 but whilst clay is the most physical surface in terms of running / point length, it's pretty easy on the body compared to a hard court; which is probably why he culled Slowami from the schedule this year.
What do you guys think?