Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open this morning, ending his return to tournament tennis after a year-plus-long absence following two knee surgeries.
Federer mentioned this possibility after earning a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 win over Dominik Koepfer in the fourth round of the tournament last night, citing the length he's been out and length of the match (3 hours and 35 minutes).
While this decision may raise red flags for some, it shouldn't. This is Federer simply being smart. He knew he didn't have a chance to win the French Open. Why punish your body more than needed when the goal at this point in his life is only to win one or two more majors? The answer is you don't, especially not ahead of your best chance to add to the trophy case.
Wimbledon, which Federer has won eight times, is just over two weeks away. Withdrawing from the French Open was all about putting his body in a better position to be ready for that. Playing in the French was a warm-up in a major setting. Federer proved he could win some early matches. Mission accomplished. No need to push further on the slow clay courts of France.
Federer is the fourth betting favorite to win Wimbledon, coming in with +750 odds on WynnBET. Novak Djokovic (+135), Rafael Nadal (+650) and Daniil Medvedev (+700) are ahead of him. Federer's best chance to win his 21st major is on the grass courts of Wimbledon, where his accurate, powerful serve and deft touch around the net can shorten points and give him a chance to beat the formidable baseline players he's sure to face in the later rounds.
Yes, it's always tough when a player withdraws from a major tournament only a few weeks before another one. In this case, however, this is simply Federer knowing his body and knowing where he has a chance to win. It's not on the red clay, it's on the green grass. Now his focus is solely there.