Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has lost his race for fitness for Roland Garros after surgery on his left knee, the 2013 and 2015 French Open semi-finalist confirmed on Monday.
No Frenchman has won at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983 and Tsonga’s two previous semi-final runs had given home fans reason to hope.
“Despite all our best efforts to be fit in time I am afraid to say unhappily I’m ruled out of Roland Garros,” the 33-year-old wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Tsonga damaged a meniscus in February, pulling out of the Montpellier tournament in the semi-finals, before going under the knife in April.
“I worked really hard to try and be fit in time, but it wasn’t enough,” Tsonga said in a video posted on his Twitter account.
Current champion and 10-time winner Rafael Nadal is red-hot favourite to win again in 2018 with Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev all expected to make a run at the May 27 to June 10 championship.
Thiem beat Nadal in the Madrid quarters last week and while the Austrian was outplayed by rising German star Zverev in the final, the pair are seen as the most likely way to stop Nadal winning an 11th title.
In 2018 there is a total purse of 39 million euros ($46.7m), with 2.2 million euros going to the singles champions.
Simona Halep is favourite for the women’s tournament while 36-year-old American star Serena Williams is set to play nine months after giving birth and targeting a 24th Grand Slam title.