Roger Federer is denying that he receives special treatment from tennis authorities when it comes to high profile tournaments.

By Maura Hohman
November 14, 2018 06:00 PM
Roger Federer
JP Yim/Getty

Roger Federer is denying that he receives special treatment from tennis authorities when it comes to high profile tournaments.

The No. 3 tennis player in the world, 37, is taking a stand following accusations by French athlete Julien Benneteau that he was given an advantage during the last two Australian Opens because most of his matches were at night, which protected him from the grueling heat during the day.

“It’s normal that he gets preferential treatment, with everything he’s done,” Benneteau, 36, told France’s RMC Sport recently, according to Agence France Presse. “But, in some tournaments, there are big differences in the conditions. He has no idea what that’s like.”

Roger Federer

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Benneteau also posted that one reason behind the alleged beneficial arrangements for Federer comes from his relationship with Craig Tiley, who is the CEO of Tennis Australia and runs the Australian Open. In addition, Tiley, 56, is an investor in the Laver Open, a tournament owned by Federer, according to ESPN.

In response to Benneteau’s comments, after his win at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, Federer officially denied the accusation.

Julien Benneteau

“I get asked, ‘Would you like to play Monday or Tuesday,’ sometimes. Sometimes I get asked, ‘Do you want to play day or night?’ Sometimes they go ask my agent,” he said, according to AFP. “Sometimes they ask me, you know, Asia wants you to play at night. Yes, sometimes we have our say. But I asked to play Monday at the US Open and I played Tuesday night … Sometimes I get help, sometimes I don’t … But a lot of the facts are not right, just to be clear.”

Tiley also denied the allegation of preferential treatment in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

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“It needs to be said that Roger Federer is a once-in-a-generation player widely regarded as one of the biggest box-office athletes in the world,” he wrote. “The fans demand his appearance in the big stadiums and our broadcasters naturally want his matches to air in prime time. And I don’t think there’s a tournament director in the world who’s not going to take those factors into account when setting the schedule.”

Roger Federer

Fellow male tennis great Novak Djokovic has also stood up for Federer.

“At the end of the day, in a way, he deserves the special treatment because he’s six-time champion of Australian Open and arguably the best player ever,” Djokovic said. “If he doesn’t have it, who is going to have it? … I understand Julien’s point because sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favored year after year in certain tournaments. On the other side, you have to understand … Julien and guys like him are also benefitting from tennis because of Roger, because of what he has done for the sport.”

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On Wednesday via Twitter, Benneteau pivoted slightly in his stance, tweeting that he merely meant to call attention to the potential conflict of interest between Tiley and Federer in an effort to preserve etiquette and sportsmanship — and not to make any personal attacks on the Swiss legend.

“I was the first to say [Federer] is the best and all he’s done and continues to do for our sport,” he concluded.