Roger Federer’s return to tennis after a five-week pause will be celebrated with joyous voices as his home Swiss Indoors honours the world number one local hero on Monday.
Amid the a bid from anti-smoking forces to somehow get the Swiss to avoid the event sponsored by luxury good provider Davidoff, plans advanced to honour the native son in a tennis hall renamed for him last year.
The event where Federer got his start as a ballkid will stage an opening ceremony to celebrate the record 15 Grand Slam titles of the Swiss star, achieved during Wimbledon last summer.
After that, Federer will take to the court for his opening match.
Federer, who has won the last three Basel editions, will be making his return after five weeks of rest and family time with his three-month-old twins and wife Mirka at their home near Lake Zurich.
He is due to play Basel and the Paris Masters before headlining at the World Tennis Finals in London from November 22.
Organisers say the tournament’s 40th edition will feature a concert by Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballn a mix of sport and culture. The Catalan opera singer will be accompanied by the Opera Choir of the Theatre Basel and the Basel Festival Orchestra.
A row over tobacco sponsorship at the event has turned ugly, with non-EU member Switzerland perfectly free to accept tobacco sponsorship — as was the case elsewhere in Europe until 2005.
So high was recent pressure that broadcaster Eurosport was forced to drop coverage plans under that of legal action, with a German satellite broadcaster now taking the feed.
The UN, a big part of the Swiss economy has also made its displeasure known, returning a donation from the tournament to Unesco, the UN cultural arm.
British news reports suggest that up to 500 health officials have signed a letter asking Federer to boycott the tournament, which is perhaps closest to his heart.