Roger Federer pulled out of the French Open on Sunday ahead of his fourth-round match, saying he didn’t want to push himself too much while he is still recovering from two knee surgeries.
Matteo Berrettini will have a walkover into the quarter-finals.
“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today,” the 39-year-old said.
“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. I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”
The 20-time Grand Slam title winner, who will be 40 in two months’ time, battled over three and a half hours until 12:45 Sunday morning to reach the last 16 in Paris.
If his knife-edge 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer was his last match in Paris, it will be remembered as a gripping affair on the court, but soulless off it. Due to a government-imposed Covid-19 curfew, Court Philippe Chatrier was devoid of fans and atmosphere.
Federer is playing only his third tournament since last year’s Australian Open and has always said Wimbledon is his main goal.
Also read: The very human Roger Federer
This is the first time in his career that has stretched into a fourth decade that Federer has withdrawn from a Grand Slam mid-way. He has also never retired mid-match in his career so far on the ATP tour.
He is also scheduled to play the warm-up grass court tournament in Halle beginning on June 14, the day after the French Open ends.
Federer, who made his Roland Garros debut in 1999 and was champion in 2009, was playing a night session for the first time in his third round tie.
However, the almost empty 15,000-capacity Court Philippe Chatrier was eerily silent due to a Covid-19 curfew.
It is likely that this was Federer’s final appearance at the tournament. His return this year was only his second participation since 2015.
“The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night,” said Guy Forget, the tournament director.
“We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season.”
After winning his match, Federer said that he was pacing himself in his recovery.
“All the matches I’ve played since the injury are information for the rest of the season,” he added. “It gives me great pleasure to be able to play 3hr 30min at a high level against a very good player. It shows that I’m on the right track.”
With AFP Inputs
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