Roger Federer took a cheeky swipe at the media after his press conference was dominated by air pollution questions. The Swiss star has come under fire from lower-ranked players for supposedly not doing enough to put pressure on those in charge.
Several players, including Briton Liam Broady, have fumed at the Australian Open for being made to play their qualification matches in ‘hazardous’ conditions – the worst possible rating.
Federer was pressed on the issue for the majority of his pre-tournament press conference and he was defiant in explaining the actions he had taken.
As the moderator attempted to shift the press conference to Swiss German, Federer quipped: “And I’m playing Steve Johnson for those who care. That’s why I’m in Australia.”
An English speaker then pressed for one more question to be fielded about his first-round clash with Steve Johnson.
“I’m not in the mood now. You’ve had enough time,” Federer joked, before continuing to expand.
He added: “I’m happy to be back in Australia. I’m happy to be playing here, of course, I love it.
“Look, it’s exactly the tricky situation right now playing somebody who has just played a lot this week. He’s ready to go. He’s match-ready and I’m not.
“I got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick. Practice has been going well. Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it’s enough.
“I know it’s a super long road to victory. That’s why I got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low.
“No, I’m excited to play Steve. He’s a good guy. I think with his old-school playing – big forehand, slice backhand, good serve – I think it’s going to be a nice match for me, as well.”
The Australian Open yesterday confirmed their Air Quality Policy in which they give referees permission to take players off the court in a certain level is reached.
And Federer is comfortable thaat the authorities know how to keep their players safe.
“I don’t worry. From what we were told yesterday in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300,” Federer said.
“Ours is set at 200. From that standpoint, I think we’re moving in a very safe range. We’re not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know. That’s when maybe effects really become bad.
“No, I don’t worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke.
“Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again. It’s not like we’re stuck outside at all times.
“Maybe that message comes a bit late after the ATP Cup is over, after qualifying is over.
“I think communication is key from the tournament to the people, to the media, to the fans, to the players, because you do hear it’s not safe to be outside, keep your pets inside, close your windows. You have court calls, then you look at the haze and everything, it doesn’t look good.
“I think we’re going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn’t move, no.”