Roger Federer: Swiss 18-time Grand Slam winner to miss French Open

Roger Federer
Roger Federer won the Miami Open at the start of April

Eighteen-time major winner Roger Federer will sit out the French Open and the rest of the clay-court season.

The 35-year-old, fifth in the world rankings, says he made the decision in an attempt to continue playing on the ATP Tour "for many years to come".

The Swiss added he will now prepare for the grass and hard-court seasons, which begin in June.

"I need to recognise that scheduling will be the key to my longevity," he said.

"Thus, my team and I concluded that playing just one event on clay was not in the best interest of my tennis and physical preparation for the remainder of the season.

"I will miss the French fans, who have always been so supportive and I look forward to seeing them at Roland Garros next year."

Federer missed last year's French Open through injury - the first time he did not compete in Paris since his debut in 1999.

He won the tournament for the only time in 2009 and is a four-time runner-up.

Federer has won three titles so far this season, including the Australian Open - his first Grand Slam success in five years.

He also claimed the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March and, two weeks later, won the Miami Open.

The French Open begins on 28 May.

'It is a matter of priority'

Former Olympic champion Marc Rosset backed his compatriot, saying it was a matter of Federer prioritising tournaments he can win.

"The chances of him winning on clay at the French Open were quite low," Rosset told the BBC's World Service.

"Roger is the kind of guy who goes to a tournament to win. If he doesn't feel he is capable of winning the tournament, I don't see any sense in him attending.

"I don't think it is a matter of age, it is one of priority. He is going to play the two tournaments on grass before Wimbledon."

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Federer was in such devastating form in the first three months of the year that an eighth Wimbledon title seems very much within his grasp. Trying to win a clay-court Grand Slam at the age of nearly 36 without playing any other tournament to prepare would surely have been beyond even him, and I say that with memories of Australia still very vivid.

Federer is talking like a man who would still love to be competing at 40, and to do so the clay-court season may need to become a permanent casualty.

I suspect he will want to play Roland Garros at least once more before he is done, and he says he looks forward to returning next year.

But he did say exactly the same thing 12 months ago when making a very late withdrawal because of concerns about his back.

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