Roger Federer (31) admitted yesterday that a bizarre online death threat had been a distraction in the build-up to the Shanghai Masters but said he was now focussing on action on the court.
Tournament officials gave assurances on players’ security after hate messages from a blogger, who calls himself ‘Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07’ appeared on the popular baidu.com site. “On October 6, I plan to assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination,” read the message.
The user also posted a doctored image showing a decapitated Federer on his knees on a tennis court, with an axe-wielding executioner posing next to him. Federer, speaking at a press conference on the first day of the tournament with black-suited security personnel looking on, said the run-up to the Shanghai Masters had been different from usual. “Obviously maybe it’s a little bit of a distraction, there’s no doubt about it. But you have to be aware of what’s happening around you,” said the Swiss World No 1.
Federer, who has a first-round bye, said he first became aware of the issue about 10 days ago, before it hit the headlines. Federer’s wife and twin daughters have not travelled to China but Federer said that decision had nothing to do with the threats, adding: “It was a last-minute decision for me to come here in the first place.”