Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday a day after having reached the fourth round with a gruelling win, evidently opting to focus on his primary objective of doing well on the grass courts and not push his body to the limits on clay.
“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today,” the 39-year-old said after withdrawing from a tournament for just the fifth time in his career. It was the first time, however, he had taken such a drastic measure at a Grand Slam — which in itself is an incredible feat, given that he has played Major tournaments stretching into a fourth different decade now.
“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.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam title winner, who will be 40 in two months’ time, battled over three and a half hours until 12:45 am local time on Sunday to reach the last 16 with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer.
He was due back on court on Monday to tackle Matteo Berrettini for a place in the quarter-finals.
Also read: The very human Roger Federer
However, having undergone two knee surgeries in 2020, the Swiss star had admitted there were doubts over whether he’d make it. Federer is playing only his third tournament since last year’s Australian Open.
Federer has not made it a secret that a ninth Wimbledon title is on his radar on comeback from a injury-hit year.
There were plenty of reactions to Federer’s withdrawal from the French Open (especially the nature of his statement), with opinion divided over whether he should have played if he was fit or it’s alright for him to choose when to rest.
Former world No 1 Andy Murray was one of the big names to appreciate Federer for a sensible decision when a fan asked him if the Swiss legend was being disrespectful to the draw and the Grand Slam.
Here’s a look at some of the reactions: