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Federer Defends Fans Amid Ticket Hike

Fan favorite Roger Federer defended fans in the face of of a ticket-price hike for his Rome opener tomorrow.

The tournament opted to double the cost of a ticket for Federer's first match saying it was a way to reward fans who bought tickets before Federer confirmed he would play Rome. 

Watch: Kyrgios' Wild Rome Ride

"We have doubled the price of tickets for Wednesday, the day Federer will play," the Italian Tennis Federation announced in a statement. "We want to reward fans who had bought tickets before they knew Federer would play."

While the tournament spun the price hike as "a reward", Federer called the spike in ticket prices "strange" and "disappointing" when he met with the media in Rome today.

"I heard that some fans were clearly not happy about it,” Federer told the media in Rome. "That's obviously disappointing to hear. They said they did it to reward those who had bought the tickets before, which is sort of strange thing. I just really hope it doesn't take away from the fact I'm really happy to be here.”

The 37-year-old Swiss, who won his first ATP tournament title in Italy at the 2001 Milan tournament, said his love for the Eternal City brought him back for the first time since he lost to Dominic Thiem in the 2016 Rome round of 16.

"In the first moment since I landed in Rome I felt very happy to be here, I love this city, my emotion could not be greater,” Federer said. “I think this is the country where I played the most times as a junior, coming from Switzerland."

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said his performance in Madrid, combined with the fact he's having fun playing on clay, prompted his decision to play Rome.

"I think it came up quickly, after playing Madrid, the decision came naturally," Federer said. "I grew up on this surface and sliding on the ground is something I really enjoy. The more I play on clay, the more excited I feel."

Photo credit: Internazionali BNL d'Italia Facebook