The debate over whether Roger Federer gets preferential treatment has gained fresh momentum after the tournament director of Dubai Tennis Championship said he hopes the draw "helps" the Swiss win the title. Federer was caught in the line of fire late last year when former French tennis player Julien Benneteau accused the 37-year-old of getting preferential treatment from the officials at the Australian Open. The Frenchman said that over the last two years (2017 and 2018), Federer played "12 or 13" out of the 14 matches at night and avoided the scorching day time temperatures. 

In the Dubai Tennis Championships starting February 17, Federer has been handed the number 1 seeding and this will be his first official tennis match since being knocked out of the Australian Open by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Roger Federer
Stefanos Tsitsipas ousted Roger Federer in the Australian Open

The 20-time grand slam winner will head into the tournament on the brink of history as he sits on 99 career titles. If he does manage to go all the way, he will become only the second man in history after Jimmy Connors to hit the three-figure mark. Federer's last and 99th title came in his home country of Switzerland when he won the Swiss Indoors in Basel. Since then Federer has missed out in Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals in London last season. This season, he could win his third successive Australian Open.

Under such circumstances, Salah Tahlak, who is the tournament director of the tournament in Dubai, hopes that Federer gets to achieve his monumental feat under his watch. Thus, he wishes the Swiss be given the easiest path to the summit. "For Roger, Dubai is important because his first official title came in Milan. It was a tournament owned by Dubai Duty Free," Tahlak told the Khaleej Times.

Roger Federer
Roger FedererJulian Finney/Getty Images

"It has always been a great bond between Roger and Dubai. So it's very important to have him back. I hope the draw next Saturday will help him because if he reaches the final and wins it, it will be the number eight title for him in Dubai and that will also be the 100th title of his career. It will be a magical moment. It will also be a great legacy that he will be leaving behind if he wins his 100th title in Dubai."

This, however, irked people on social media who hit out at the player and tournament officials in general for what they termed 'favouritism' towards Federer.