Roger Federer is skipping the French Open and instead will prepare for the grass and hard courts later this season.
The 18-time major champion posted a message entitled “Roger to skip Roland Garros” on his website on Monday.
His agent, Tony Godsick, confirmed that Federer won’t compete at the year’s second Grand Slam tournament, which starts in Paris on May 28. Federer won the title at the clay-court major in 2009 to complete a career Grand Slam.
It’s the second year in a row that Federer pulled out of the French Open.
His absence a year ago, because of back and knee problems that plagued him in 2016, ended his record streak of appearing in 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments — every one since the start of 2000.
“I’ve been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month,” Federer wrote, “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 clay court season this year.”
The 35-year-old Federer has not played in a tournament since April 2, when he won his third title of 2017 at the Miami Open. That improved his record this year to 19-1, all on hard courts, his best start in more than a decade. At the time, he said he would be taking a break from the tour and did not commit to returning in time for the French Open.
Clay tends to be the most physically demanding of tennis’ surfaces, requiring plenty of tricky movement and sliding, along with lengthy, grind-it-out points.
“The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward,” Federer wrote on his website. “Thus, my team and I concluded today that playing just one event on clay was not in the best interest of my tennis and physical preparation for the remainder of the season.”
Federer missed the last half of 2016, including the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the U.S. Open, because of his surgically repaired left knee.
He started this season the best way possible, winning the Australian Open in January to add to his record total of Grand Slam championships.
The next major tournament is Wimbledon, which begins July 3. Federer has won a record-tying seven titles at the All England Club.
As for Paris, if there were those who were worried about whether they might have seen the last of the Swiss superstar there, Federer’s message on Monday offered a message about the future.
“I will miss the French fans, who have always been so supportive,” Federer said, “and I look forward to seeing them at Roland Garros next year.”