After spending a few days practicing on clay courts in Switzerland, a healthy and well-rested Roger Federer settled on his upcoming schedule: He will bypass the French Open and turn his focus to Wimbledon, then the U.S. Open. The decision comes as a surprise to many given his great start to 2017 which saw him win a record extending 18th Grand Slam in Australia.
“It was a tough decision to take, because he likes to play the French Open, likes to play the big tournaments,” Severin Luthi, who coaches Federer, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “But I think it was the best decision for him. It’s an investment in his career — for this season and for the coming seasons.”
Federer posted a message entitled “Roger to skip Roland Garros” on his website on Monday, announcing that he will stay away from competing on clay entirely in 2017 and instead will prepare for the grass- and hard-court events that follow.
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 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.