MADRID, May 2 – Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer withdrew from the Madrid Masters on Monday citing a back injury.
However, the world number three remains hopeful that he will be fit to play in the Rome Masters next week as part of his preparation for the French Open later this month.
“There’s no feeling that I can practise so at this point I don’t want to take more chances, as I know I wont be fully ready for Wednesday,” said Federer.
“I want to play it safe, rest up and get ready for Rome, that’s the schedule now.”
Federer had taken a late decision to play in Madrid after missing nearly three months of the season due to knee surgery.
“I’m very disappointed, to say the least. I was hoping to play. I changed my schedule around and practised well in Switzerland before coming here,” he added.
“It’s been a tough year, so I hope it gets better from here.”
However, he said he is reassured that it is a recurring back issue rather than further knee problems that have forced his latest withdrawal.
“This is normal back things I’ve had in the past, which I guess is good because I know how to handle it. I know how long it can take.
“Clearly it’s not a help. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to practise as much as I’ve wanted to. I came back on tour quicker than I thought I would, so in terms of schedule, I guess I still am still somewhat on par.”
The 34-year-old had initially planned to skip Madrid to reserve his energy for the three remaining Grand Slams and Rio Olympics later in the year.
Federer admitted his lack of match practice during the clay-court season could affect his chances at the French Open, but is focused on being 100 percent for his quest to land an eighth Wimbledon title and a first Olympic singles gold.
“The goal has always been that I’m at a 100 percent when the French comes around. If not, then, at the latest, Wimbledon,” he continued.
“I probably can enter the French Open or clay-court season with maybe a little bit less expectations because you guys expect less from me.
“I’m not the overwhelming favourite in those events, and sometimes that can be helpful, too. I still put pressure on myself wanting to go far and deep and play well.
“Maybe something can happen at the French. If not, there is still a huge summer ahead.”