Former champion Roger Federer on Sunday announced that he is pulling out from French Open 2021 ahead of his 4th-round match in Paris. Federer was set to take on 9th seed Matteo Berrettini in his pre-quarter-finial match after winning the first three rounds at the clay-court Grand Slam.

Roger Federer underwent two knee surgeries last year that kept him out of action for the most part of the tour. The 39-year-old played the Australian Open last year and returned to Grand Slam action only at the Roland Garros.

Federer opened his campaign with a win over Denis Istomin. He defeated former US Open champion Marin Cilic in 4 sets in his 2nd-round match and put on a heroic effort against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer in front of empty stands at the Philippe Chattrier in a night match on Saturday. He was pushed hard by the 27-year-old German but the 20-time Grand Slam champion held his composure to win the match in 4 sets.

Federer did not feature in French Open last year. He had made the semi-final in 2019, which was also his first appearance at the clay-court major in 4 years.

“After discussions with my team, I decided that I should withdraw from the French Open today,” Federer said in a social media post on Sunday.

“After two knee surgeries and more than a year of rehabilitation, it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

“I am thrilled to have gotten 3 matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on the court. See everyone soon,” he added.

Federer had conceded on Saturday that he was not sure if he would take the court on Monday for his 4th-round match. Federer said he would take a call after discussing with his team.

“We go through these matches… we analyse them highly and look on what’s next and we’ll do the same tonight and tomorrow,” he said.

“Because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not, or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep pushing or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest.”

Federer had returned to competitive action in March in Qatar where he was ousted in the quarter-final. He began his preparations for the French Open at Geneva Open last month but he suffered a first-round exit to Spain’s Pablo Andujar.

Meanwhile, French Open director Guy Forget wished Federer the best for the rest of the season.

“We were all delighted to see him back in Paris, where he played three top-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season.” Forget said.

Federer is expected to feature in a couple of grass-court tournaments before Wimbledon 2021, which he had marked at the start of the season. The 39-year-old is also likely to represent Switzerland at the Tokyo Games later this year.

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