Roger Federer has withdrawn from the French Open one day after reaching the fourth round with a late-night, 3hr 35min win against Dominik Koepfer of Germany.
He was due to face the ninth seed, Matteo Berrettini, on Monday but instead the Italian received a walkover into his first Roland Garros quarter-final.
In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, Federer said he does not want to push his body so soon into his return. “After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery,” he said. “I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”
The French Open marked Federer’s third tournament since his two surgeries last year and it has been his most successful outing by a considerable margin. He had previously lost in his second match at the Qatar Open in February and in his first match at the Geneva Open this month.
By comparison, Federer’s gruelling 7-6 (5) 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 7-5 win against Koepfer, which finished at 12.44am in a humid night session in front of no crowd, marked his third best-of-five-sets win of the week. As he reflected on his victory in the early hours of Sunday morning he said he had surprised himself with his performances during the week and he also noted that since his surgery he has not yet trained for as long as the duration of his most recent match.
Federer’s withdrawal is no surprise given that during his post-match press conference he said he had already been considering withdrawal from the tournament in order to protect his body for the grass season.
Throughout the clay season, Federer has frequently ruled out his chances of competing for the French Open title. He intends to peak at Wimbledon and then the summer hard court season, where he feels he has a far greater chance of competing for titles. His primary goal in Paris was a further buildup of match fitness and to learn more about the condition of his knee in best-of-five-set matches.
Players normally withdraw from grand slam tournaments only because of current injuries or illness, rather than as a precautionary measure in order to be in sufficient shape for a different event. At 39 years old and after two knee surgeries, however, Federer’s priorities are clear.
He will next compete at the Halle Open, which begins the day after the French Open men’s final on 14 June. By not competing during the second week in Paris, he has given himself the best chance of being ready for that event.