May 15, 2017 / 6:43 PM / 3 months ago

Federer to skip French Open and focus on Wimbledon

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Monte Carlo Masters - Monaco, 15/04/2016. Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a shot.Eric Gaillard/File Picture

PARIS (Reuters) - Roger Federer has pulled out of this month's French Open as he feels he needs to avoid playing on clay this season in order to prolong his career, the 18-times grand slam champion said on Monday.

The Swiss, who defied logic to win the Australian Open in January after being out of tennis for six months, will skip the May 28-June 11 claycourt major for the second year running after missing last year's edition through injury.

"I've been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month 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 claycourt season this year and prepare for the grass and hardcourt seasons," world number five Federer, who won his sole Roland Garros title in 2009, said on his Facebook page.

"The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognise that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward.

"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, 35, has already won the three biggest titles of the year to date as he followed his triumph in Australia with wins at Indian Wells and the Miami Open.

After that stunning run, Federer, who missed the second half of last year recovering from knee surgery, said that he would likely skip the European claycourt season except for the French Open.

The former world number one's announcement came a day after Rafael Nadal won his third consecutive claycourt title of the season ahead of the French Open, where the Spaniard will be bidding for his 10th Roland Garros title.

Federer will now focus on being in top form for Wimbledon, which begins on July 3 and where he is a seven-times champion.

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar and Frank Pingue; Editing by Clare Fallon

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