April 2 (Reuters) - Miami Open winner Roger Federer said on Sunday he will probably skip the upcoming European clay court season except for the French Open.
Federer, 35, wants to give his body a chance to recover over the next two months before the three grand slam championships that come in quick succession.
“I want to stay healthy because when I’m healthy and feeling good I can produce tennis like this,” the 18-times grand slam champion said in a courtside interview after defeating Rafa Nadal.
“I’m not 24 anymore so things have to change in a big way and I probably won’t play any clay court events except the French. I need a rest, my body needs healing. I need time to prepare.”
There are four big ATP clay events before the French Open starts in May -- in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.
Federer, who missed the second half of last year recovering from knee surgery, has made a rousing return to the court in 2017, winning three of the four tournaments he has contested, including the Australian Open.
Though no pushover on clay, it is not his best surface.
Of his grand slam titles, 10 have come on hardcourt (five Australian Opens and five U.S. Opens), seven on grass at Wimbledon and just one on clay, the 2009 French Open.
Federer said he was confident he could continue to produce top tennis as long as his body co-operated.
“When I’m healthy and I’m feeling good, I can produce tennis like this. If I’m not feeling this good there’s no chance I would be in the final competing with Rafa.
“That’s why this break coming into clay court season and focusing everything on the French, the grass (Wimbledon) and then the hardcourts (U.S. Open) is going to be the key to me.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)