Tennis in shock as Roger Federer abandons the rest of the year

Roger Federer will miss the Olympics and the rest of the season with a knee injury

A hush fell over the media centre at the Rogers Cup in Toronto as news from former champion Roger Federer spread like wildfire.

The announcement, which he made on Facebook, revealed that the world No3 would play no more part in the tennis tour this year.

“Dear fans, I’m extremely disappointed to announce that I will not be able to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games in Rio and that I will also miss the remainder of the season.

“Considering all options after consulting with my doctors and my team, I have made the very difficult decision to call an end to my 2016 season as I need more extensive rehabilitation following my knee surgery earlier this year.

“The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.

“It is tough to miss the rest of the year. However, the silver lining is that this experience has made me realize how lucky I have been throughout my career with very few injuries. The love I have for tennis, the competition, tournaments, and of course you, the fans, remains intact.

“I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017.

“Thanks for your continued support. Roger.”

It is the latest, and worst, news for Federer and his fans in what has already been a year marred by injury and illness. It began after the Australian Open, when a freak accident to his left knee led to a first ever surgery. He was forced to cancel Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells, and then, having flown to Miami to resume his tour, he was hit by a gastric virus and pulled out before playing a game.

Monte Carlo’s clay saw a rusty Federer finally make his return with a quarter-final run, but more problems hit him in Madrid with the recurrence of a chronic back problem, and again he did not play a match. He perhaps should not have attempted Rome, where he played compromised tennis through two matches, and subsequently pulled out of the French Open.

Between the Australian Open and the beginning of his semi run at Wimbledon, therefore, Federer won just eight matches in four tournaments, and missed his first Grand Slam in 16 years. Not since 2002 had he found himself in July without a title.

However, during his tough five-set loss to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon, he stumbled and fell onto the very knee that had undergone surgery. He completed the match, but afterwards admitted that he was uncertain what damage had been done.

He then withdrew from the Rogers Cup, saying: “It is best for me to take more time after Wimbledon.”

Between then and today, he announced his pleasure at signing up to the Hopman Cup in Perth during the week before the Australian Open next year, a place and an event of great sentimental importance to Federer and his wife. They met in Australia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and were a couple by the time he and Mirka played together for Switzerland in 2002. Fifteen years on, it will be his first return to the event since then.

Now, with the news that he will not play for the rest of this year, it perhaps raises questions about what further plans he has for 2017. He turns 35 at the imminent Rio Olympics, where he had hopes of filling one of the few remaining holes in his resume. Federer won Olympic gold in doubles with Stan Wawrinka in 2008, and won singles silver in London 2012. This was most likely his last chance to convert that silver to gold.

It was always going to a huge physical ask to fit in all three Olympic tennis events after such a depleted season, as Federer was scheduled to do: Just ask any of the players who are squeezing Rio into the packed summer schedule.

That the most decorated man in tennis, with 17 Majors and 302 weeks as No1, is still wrestling with physical problems has surely left him with no choice but to give up that Olympic quest in an attempt to take the optimistic longer view.

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