Roger Federer’s comeback after 14 months out with a knee injury ended in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open after he was beaten by Nikoloz Basilashvili. And the 20-time Grand Slam winner has made the decision to withdraw from next week’s Dubai Open to return to training.
Federer, 39, defeated British No 1 Dan Evans in the first round in Doha but lost to Basilashvili the following day. The world No 42 defeated a weary-looking Federer 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 after saving a match point.
After the tournament, Federer tweeted his decision to pull out of his second comeback tournament following a year working his way back to full fitness after two rounds of knee surgery.
He wrote: ‘It’s been great to be back on the @atptour, loved every minute playing in Doha once again.
‘A big thank you to the best and loyal team that helped me get there. I’ve decided it’s best to go back to training and as a result, I’ve decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.’
Federer was content that he’d returned to the tour in Doha after so long away but wasn’t quite able to make the semi-finals despite having a match point in the 10th game of the deciding set.
He couldn’t take it and Basilashvili broke the Swiss in the following game before seeing the match out in one hour and 50 minutes.
Federer said: ‘I’m happy I am back on the tour. I’m pleased I came here to Doha. So, it’s a really, really positive return for me. I’m really happy.
‘I come from so far away that I’m actually happy that I was able to play back-to-back three-set matches against top players. That’s an important step forward to me.’
Federer has already withdrawn from the Miami Open later this month, meaning he is likely to make his next appearance on the clay courts as he builds towards the grass court season.
‘I think matches are important. What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts. So, from that standpoint, I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches,’ Federer said.
‘So, like you said, it could be good for me, the clay. It could be bad for me, the clay. So, I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad, to be honest.
‘I assume I will play some clay; you know. The question is what. We have a vague idea, but we said let’s wait for Doha and potentially Dubai to potentially make any decisions for that, and fitness comes first and then we’ll see what comes after.
‘Yeah, so, I mean, at the end everything is geared towards the grass. So, whatever makes me be 100 per cent there, I will do.’
Serena Williams became the latest high-profile player to pull out of the Miami Open on Sunday, saying she was withdrawing in order to concentrate on her recovery from recent oral surgery.
“I am disappointed to withdraw from the Miami Open because of recent oral surgery,” Williams said in a statement.
“Miami is a special tournament for me because it’s my home and I am sad I won’t be able to see the incredible fans this year, but I look forward to coming back soon,” the former world number one said.
Williams’ withdrawal is another blow to the tournament which was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 39-year-old star is an eight-time winner in Miami and lives in Florida.
“We will certainly miss having Serena at this year’s tournament and I know it was a very difficult decision for her,” tournament director James Blake told the Miami Herald.
“She has won the Miami Open more than any player in history, has a home here in South Florida, and is always a fan favorite. We hope she is back on the court soon and look forward to welcoming her back here next year.”
“I decided to use this precious time at home to stay with my family,” Djokovic said.
“With all restrictions, I need to find balance in my time on tour and at home. I look forward to coming back next year!”
With Williams absent, the women’s tournament will be headlined by world number one Ashleigh Barty and Japan’s world number two Naomi Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam champion.