The French Open 2016 will be without Roger Federer for the first time in 17 years. The trigger was set when the Swiss did not take part in the Madrid Open earlier this month owing to a back injury he sustained during practice.
The 34-year old was halted by Dominic Thiem in the third round of the Italian Open and since then it has been a battle for Federer to be fit for the French Open.
The world number three said “I have been making steady progress, but I am still not 100%. I feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready.”
He turns 35 this August and there is his favourite Wimbledon and Rio Olympics where he hopes to win that elusive singles gold, which he came agonisingly close at London 2012.
“This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career.”
Just to give a perspective of his longevity, he played at the 1999 Roland Garros when Andre Agassi achieved the career grand slam and it was in that tournament, his fellow country mate Martina Hingis lost the finals to Steffi Graf after Swiss Miss looked set to win her first French Open title.
Federer’s record streak of 65 straight appearances in Grand Slams will come to an end with his announcement to withdraw from the French Open. Novak Djokovic will be playing his 46th Grand Slam in a row – and he has not missed a tournament since 2005.
The future is uncertain, however the 17-time champion is optimistic about it – “I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season. I am sorry for my fans in Paris but I very much look forward to returning to Roland Garros in 2017.”
Many pundits and experts have doubted Federer’s ability to win a Grand Slam title in over three years. Yet, he has managed to remain in the top three, a remarkable feat considering his age.
Here’s hoping this break will offer the Swiss new perspectives and his fans will be hoping to see him wave a goodbye after playing a match, if not after winning yet another title at the Grand Slams.