“I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year’s French Open,” Roger Federer said on his website, disappointing millions of fans who keep hoping to watch Federer lift another Grand Slam trophy. If he’s to do that, of course, the odds make a grass or hard court a more likely forum. Federer has battled injury so far this year, and his back — which caused him to withdraw in Madrid and struggle in Rome — is what keeps him from playing the French.
But it’s also Wimbledon, fans hope, and his hopes for success there in July that turned Roland Garros into Noland Garros for Federer this year. In bowing out from Paris, where he was working to prepare, Federer wrote “I am still not 100 percent and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready.” With Djokovic and Murray playing exceptionally well on clay this season, and Rafa Nadal looking resurgent, Federer’s best chance of holding hardware aloft was never going to be at Roland Garros, where he’s won just once (2009) in his otherwise dominant career. Federer will now do his special Federer prep with his eyes on the Wimbledon prize.