After losing back-to-back matches for the first time since 2014, Roger Federer has announced that he will be sitting out the clay court season – including the French Open – for the second year in a row.
The decisions will allow Federer, 36, to rest up for the grass court season and Wimbledon. Federer has been the dominant force at Wimbledon for the past two decades, winning the men’s championship there eight times, and is the defending champion. Conversely, Federer has only one French Open title in his career, winning at Roland Garros in 2009.
Career-Best Start Slows
Federer began the 2018 season with wins at the Australian Open and in Rotterdam, then reached the finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells to start the season 17-0, an all-time best for him. However, he would lose that final to Juan Matrin del Potro in a third set tiebreaker to end the streak.
More surprising was his opening match loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open on Saturday. The Australian qualifier, ranked No. 175 in the world, defeated Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to earn the biggest win of his career. Kokkinakis is the lowest-ranked player in the world to defeat a No. 1 ranked men’s player since Francisco Clavet (ranked No. 178 at the time) defeated Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, also in Miami.
“I’ve always liked his game,” Federer said of Kokkinakis after the match. “I’m happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it.”
Federer’s loss also means that he will cede the No. 1 world ranking to rival Rafael Nadal after the Miami Open concludes. Federer will still hold a large lead, however, in the race for the year-end No. 1 ranking for the 2018 season.
After the match, Federer also confirmed that he would be taking some time off in order to recharge for the rest of the year.
“I decided not to play the clay season,” he told reporters. “I am trying to figure things out now, I have some time. I’m a positive thinker, every match is another opportunity. You take a break, get away from it all, and get back to practice court and work.”
Nadal Favored in France, Federer Still Tops at Wimbledon
With Federer out for the French Open, Nadal is now an even more overwhelming favorite to win his 11th career title at Roland Garros, as William Hill lists him as an 8/11 favorite there.
Novak Djokovic (9/2) and Dominic Thiem (6/1) are expected to present the toughest challenges, but a healthy Nadal will be expected by just about everyone to dominate on clay.
But Federer is still expected to have the best of it once the tennis world turns its eyes toward Wimbledon. At the only grass court Grand Slam event, Federer is a 7/4 choice to walk away with the championship. Djokovic (5/1) Andy Murray (11/2), and Nadal (8/1) are also considered top contenders.