Roger Federer has dropped a bombshell by announcing he will not contest the French Open at Roland Garros this year.
Federer, who opened the season by winning the Australian Open for his first grand slam title since Wimbledon in 2012, said he was skipping the clay court season in a bid to lengthen his career.
“Regrettably I’ve decided not to participate in the French Open,” Federer wrote in a statement on his website.
“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 claycourt season this year and prepare for the grass and hardcourt season.”
“The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognise that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward.”
Federer’s hot start to 2017 after returning from a knee injury captured the imagination of tennis fans as he and a rejuvenated Rafael Nadal renewed their rivalry to make the Australian Open final.
Federer won the tournament with a five-set 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 win over Nadal before going on to win Masters series titles at Indian Wells and Miami.
He has not played a tournament since his Miami title came with a win, also over Nadal, in early April.
Federer’s withdrawal from the tournament he won in 2009 only improves the red-hot Nadal’s chances of lifting his 10th French Open crown.
Nadal is currently on a three-tournament winning streak, having won titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid and is playing in Rome this week, in his final event before the French Open starts on May 28.