ATP World Tour Finals: Injured Roger Federer pulls out to hand title to Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer withdraws from the ATP World Tour final against Novak Djokovic because of a back injury

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis at the O2 Arena

Roger Federer has made a shock withdrawal from the ATP World Tour final that he was scheduled to play against Novak Djokovic this evening because of injury.

In a brave gesture, he took to the packed arena less than an hour before the highly-anticipated contest to apologise in person that he was “not match-fit”.

In an emotional address, he added: “I tried everything I could last night, also today – painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end – but I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.

“I wanted to come out personally and excuse myself. It’s been a great week for me. I played some great tennis and I love coming to the O2 and to London, and there’s been so many great memories for me here. Congrats of course to Novak, who’s played an amazing season, and an amazing tournament here as well. I hope we can play some more great matches, hopefully next year.

“Thanks to all you guys for making it special to come out and play tennis all around the world. I know you guys travel, as well, and spend a lot of money on tickets and so forth.

“We really, really appreciate it – me in particular. It keeps me going, it makes me tick, especially at this age. Hopefully, I can come back next year and get another chance to compete for the title here. So thank you very much and I’ll see you soon. I appreciate it.”

He posted another explanation on his Facebook page: “I am sorry to announce that I cannot play the finals tonight versus Novak. I hurt my back late in the match yesterday against Stan [Wawrinka]. I am very disappointed and I hope to be feeling better soon.

“It’s been an extremely difficult decision because I love playing in London and the [Barclays] ATP World Tour Finals have been an absolute highlight of my career. Unfortunately, my back problem does not allow me to play right now. I hope all tennis fans and those involved in the event will understand.”

The rumours began this afternoon when Federer did not appear for his schedule pre-match warm-up at the O2. He won a long, intense three-set semi-final that lasted over two and three quarter hours, late last night, against compatriot Wawrinka, 4-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6).

He did not arrive in the media centre for another two hours, at 1am, and was asked about the his recovery time: “I mean, I’m going to try to get back as quick as possible, try to recover, stretching, massage, sleep, eat. Do all those things fast. The problem is it’s a bit of a drive home. So it takes a while. It’s not like it’s five minutes away like in other places. Going to lose some time there.

“But the match is 6.00pm tomorrow, which is good it’s not earlier than that, so at least it gives me the chance to sleep in in the morning.”

Federer’s withdrawal, only the third time in his career that he has pulled out ahead of a match—and he has never retired during a match—hands the title to the world No1 Djokovic, the Serb’s third straight title here and his fourth overall.

In a gesture to the disappointed crowd, Djokovic is to play Andy Murray in an exhibition pro-set (first to eight), and Murray will then join up with John McEnroe to play against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

A statement about Federer’s participation in the Davis Cup final, scheduled to begin on Friday in Lille, is still awaited.

More follows.

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