“After discussions with my team, I have decided that I must withdraw from Roland Garros today,” the 39-year-old said in a statement on Sunday.
“After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation, it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure that I don’t push myself too fast on the road to recovery.”
After playing until the early hours of Sunday in his third round victory over Dominik Koepfer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion had hinted at his retirement after a long match that ended at 12:45 a.m. local time.
Federer underwent two knee operations in 2020 and is aiming for a ninth Wimbledon title later this month on his favorite turf surface.
“I am delighted to have had three matches under my belt,” added Federer. “There is no better feeling than being back on the court.”
Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget said: “The Roland Garros tournament is sorry for the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who fought an incredible fight last night.
“We were all delighted to see Roger again in Paris, where he played three top-level matches. We wish him the best for the rest of the season.”
Federer, who turns 40 on August 8, beat Koepfer 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 and was due to face Matteo Berrettini on Monday for a place in quarter-finals.
“I don’t know if I’m going to play,” said the 20-time Grand Slam winner after his victory over Koepfer which ended at 12:45 am local time.
“I have to decide whether or not to continue. Is it too risky to keep pressing on the knee? Is this a good time to rest?
“Every game I have to reassess the situation and see what condition I wake up to and how my knee is the next morning.
“It may be even more true after a game as long as this evening.”
‘You must like this’
A nighttime curfew due to Covid-19 restrictions ensured that the 15,000-seat Philippe Chatrier court at Roland Garros was fanless for Federer’s game.
“All the matches I have played since the injury are information for the rest of the season,” added Federer.
“It gives me great pleasure to be able to play three hours and 30 minutes at a high level against a very good player. It shows that I am on the right track.”
Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, who has suffered his fair share of injury issues, said it was inspiring to watch Federer play and a testament to the Swiss star’s love for tennis.
“Just seeing Federer at 39 after 2 knee surgeries playing in an empty stadium at 12:30 am inspires me. Do what you love,” Murray tweeted.
Federer replied: “Thank you Sir Andy the feeling is mutual. You have to love it. See you on the grass.”
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