Roger Federer’s participation in the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship is in doubt after the Swiss star was coy about returning to the UAE next month.

Federer, 36, has been a stalwart of the tournament, winning in Dubai a record seven times and appearing in nine finals.

But after claiming an incredible 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, Federer refused to confirm whether or not he would compete in Dubai this year.

“We were in talks with them [DDF organisers] but when the Australian Open started, I just said ‘look, if it’s okay, I’d like to decide after the tournament’,” he said. “That’s an ideal scenario for me.

“So now we know what the situation is. I also have to decide on the claycourt season so all these things are kind of interlinked.”

Federer noted that while “it’s possible” he’ll play, “it is also possible that maybe I just don’t play anything (for a while).”

With Andy Murray ruled out for several months due to a hip injury and Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal also doubtful after picking up problems in Melbourne, the absence of Federer would be a major blow to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship.

A major draw for the Swiss, however, will be the fact that he could overtake Nadal and return to the World No. 1 spot should he compete in Dubai.

There is more positive news for the DDF Championships on the women’s side, with five-time Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova accepting a wildcard to play.