Rodger Federer to miss his first Grand Slam event in 17 years
Rodger Federer has confirmed that he will miss his first Grand Slam tournament in 17 years after he pulled out of the French Open due to a back injury.
Federer's stunning record of appearing in every major event since the 1999 US Open will come to an end this weekend, as he will be absent from the draw for the second Grand Slam of the year in Paris.
"I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year’s French Open," he said in a Facebook message.
"I have been making steady progress with my overall fitness, but I am still not 100% and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready.
"This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career. I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season.
"I am sorry for my fans in Paris but I very much look forward to returning to Roland Garros in 2017."
Last time #Federer did not play in a Grand Slam singles main draw, we were in a different millennium: 1999 US Open— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 19, 2016
While Federer stated in his message that he intends to return to the French Open a year from now, doubts are being raised over he future of the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who has played just four tournaments in 2016.
All eyes will now be on his hopes of making a recovery in time for Wimbledon at the end of June, with his absence from that event likely to fuel speculation that retirement is imminent for the 34-year-old sporting great.
To emphasise the time gap that has passed since he missed his last Grand Slam, here is an image of a youthful looking Federer back in 1999.