Tennis sensation Roger Federer will not compete in the upcoming French Open in May and instead prepare to play on grass and hard courts later this season. The tennis giant had a majestic start to 2017 as he won his 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open in January.
The Swiss star also missed 2016 French Open through injury, the first time he failed to make the trip to Paris since his debut in 1999.
At 35, he now appears to be prioritising Wimbledon, having won the tournament seven times.
His career nemesis on clay, Rafael Nadal, won the Madrid Open on Monday, which was his third consecutive title on clay in 2017.
Nadal still holds a 23-14 career edge against Federer, partly due to a 13-2 career superiority on clay. On the other hand, the Swiss ace is renowned for his superiority on grass and tennis pundits have predicted that he would prefer to meet Nadal at Wimbledon rather than at Roland Garros.
There's also the No. 1 ranking at stake which may have propelled Federer to take the decision. With the inconsistent form of Djokovic and Murray, both Nadal and Federer would vie for the top spot by the end of the year.
Federer posted a message on his website which read:
Regrettably, I've decided not to participate in the French Open. I've been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month but in order to try and play on the ATP World Tour for many years to come, I feel it's best to skip the clay court season this year and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons. The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward. Thus, my team and I concluded today 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.