By Ros Satar, in Madrid

  • Third seed Roger Federer withdraws from Madrid with a back problem
  • Schedule remains Rome and Roland Garros

MADRID, SPAIN – Roger Federer withdraws from the Mutua Madrid Open, citing a back problem that flared up over the weekend.

Federer had been due to do his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday, but had curtailed his practice the day before, unable to practice at all on Sunday, and missing Monday’s practice before announcing his withdrawal.

He explained: “I arrived and I was okay, and then I practiced on Saturday and hurt my back a little bit in practice and then stopped early. Supposed to practice for two hours; had to stop after an hour 15.

“I was scheduled to practice yesterday and today but just don’t feel like I can practice. At this point I don’t want to take more chances as I know I’m not going to be fully ready for Wednesday. I would rather play it safe and rest up now and get ready for Rome.”

The good news, such as it is, is that this is more reminiscent of back issues he has had in the past, as opposed to the severe back spams that caused him to pull out of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in 2014.

“Before the Davis Cup finals it was the most extreme I probably ever had. This is normal back things I’ve had in the past, which I guess is good because I know how to handle it. I know how long it can take. Sometimes it can vary by a few days here or there.

“That’s why I’m pulling out today and not waiting until tomorrow. I felt like yesterday already it was probably not going to make it for Wednesday. I wanted to wait for an extra day and do treatment and all that.”

It has been a frustrating year for the World No. 3, former World No. 1 and 17-time Slam winner, with a freak knee injury straight after the Australian Open, returning for the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, where he made it as far as the quarter-final.

He continued: “I was always going to wait for Madrid to see how I was going to react, the body was going to react to the matches. Now that I don’t have any matches, clearly I always need goals that you work forward to. The goal now is to play Rome and hopefully arrive there somewhat early so I have a good preparation, and, you know, that I can play hopefully a good tournament.

“The goal has always been that I’m at a 100% when the French comes around. Hopefully. If not, then latest Wimbledon. That’s always been the case ever since I stepped into the operation room.

“Time will tell if I’ll be fine at the French. I do believe I have chances there. The problem in the past has been more Rafa than the clay itself. If you take Rafa out of the equation I would’ve had an amazing clay court career – still with him I’ve had a great clay court career.”

The Internazionali BNL d’Italia takes place in Rime between 8-15 May.

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