Federer Withdraws from Doha to Rest Up for Australian Open

“I’m sorry for holding this press conference,” said Federer, who has been enjoying a 20-match unbeaten run.

“I hurt my back in my second round match (against Zemlja) and I don’t see any improvement today.

“I’ve played through two matches in pain and don’t think it’s the right thing to risk anything more now. It’s the only right decision to make.

“I’ve just been trying to manage the situation really. Back spasms happen and sometimes you can contain them with massage and pain killers. But I don’t want to drive myself crazy with more painkillers, and I need to do what’s right to get it better.”

“It’s only the second time I have pulled out from a tournament, and I have never pulled out during a match. It’s a sad moment for me, the tournament, and the fans, but health comes first.”

Federer said he feels “optimistic” that he will be fit for the Australian Open, where he hopes to win back the title he lost to Novak Djokovic last year.
“Although it’s not very good it’s not crazy bad,” he said.

“I have had bad backs on the past, but this is not very good, otherwise I would definitely be playing.

“I feel that without play and with the right treatment, I will get through it in the next few days. That’s my personal opinion right now.
“But then of course I have along journey in front of me going to Australia, but I hope maybe midweek next week I should be a hundred percent again. But that’s just guessing.”



Good decision I thought. Roger won three competitive matches now and I feel that is enough to be ready for Melbourne. The presser above reveals a lot. It’s obvious that Roger wanted to play, but as always health comes first for him. No one can ever doubt his motivation to play because this is only the second time in his long career that he has withdrawn before a match, and he has never withdrawn during a match. I mean that is just unheard of. At 30 years of age it is almost expected that he would withdraw at some point. I know for us as fans it is not nice. Believe me I was disappointed when I heard Roger withdrew, but we just have to try to think ahead. Isn’t it better that he withdraws now than withdrawing during the Australian open? Of course it is. We just have to accept it no matter how difficult.

The good thing is that this is not a career ender. It is a muscle problem and therefore can be treated quite easily. In the next few days Roger will spend a lot of time on the massage table, do stretching, and have some rest. Roger have had this problem in the past and it’s not nice to see it rear its ugly head again, but I like to be optimistic. The positive thing is that Roger has his priorities right. He could have played today with painkillers and possibly won the tournament, but then he would have put his body at risk before the first slam of the year. Clearly it’s not worth it. He can rather take painkillers during the Australian Open if it’s necessary. Lets say he starts feeling his back at semis time. Then he can always take some pain killers because it is a big event and he will have enough time to rest afterwards anyway.

This doesn’t look like an injury that can really mess him up in the long term. It may be recurring but as I said it doesn’t look like a career ender. I think it is more a question of strengthening certain muscles to ensure that it doesn’t recur. I used to have a chronic lower back problem when I was playing. It was quite painful and debilitating but it was only really a problem after a break when I was not fit. What I am trying to say is that it can be treated. It is usually because of the weakness of certain muscles. So maybe it will take some time to fully sort this problem out, but I don’t really see it as career threatening. Roger seems positive but at the same time uncertain about how his back will react during the Australian Open. My outlook is that he took the right decision now and if his back bothers him in the latter parts of the Australian Open he can always opt for the pain killers.

Today Monfils beat Nadal 6-3, 6-4. He also beat Nadal in the Doha semis in 2009. To me Nadal still looks vulnerable. Many people would say this result has no bearing on Nadal’s chances in Melbourne, but Nadal has looked vulnerable for a while now and I’d be shocked if he wins the Australian Open. I actually think this will be a very tough year for him. But I have never been good with predictions about Nadal so I will just leave it at that.


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  1. I think this Australian Open will really come down to the luck of the draw for Federer. You usually don’t want to say the draw has that much impact but currently I believe this could be what determines his eventual outcome. If he has to fight through tough early matches it will make it very difficult for him to win in the QF or SF with a bad back. If he can get through his early matches without too much trouble it’ll give him a chance to win his QF and then who knows.

    I believe Federer would be better off to face big servers such as Raonic, Isner, and Karlovic. It’s hard to believe those guys are a favorable draw but I think they would be decent draws for Federer this time around because in those matches the points are always short and Federer doesn’t have to run as much nor contest long rallies to hit his winners. I remember at Wimbledon a few years ago in the QF when Federer was hitting winners off of Karlovic’s serve. He’s going to need more of the same this time around if his back is still bothering him.

    As it stands now this is really Djokovic’s tournament to lose. I think Federer’s chances are still better than Nadal’s and Murray’s here if he is able to recover and play at around 75%, but he is going to need a fortunate draw I believe. Remember in 2008 Federer still made the SF playing at under 50% of his normal self suffering with mono. On hard court in the slams there is just something extra special about Federer. He is able to come up with some amazing stuff regardless of the situation. The last time Federer lost before a SF in a hard slam was the 2003 US Open which is truly an unbelievable record that will most likely never, ever, be matched in our lifetimes.

    He’s faced losing situations a few times in Australia and has found a way every time to get to the SFs. Whenever it doesn’t look too good going into Australia, I like to think back to the matches against 2006 Haas, 2008 Tipsarevic, 2009 Berdych, 2010 Davydenko, and 2011 Simon. I believe Federer has played some of his best clutch tennis in Australia and Federer can find a way again to reach the SF. I remember posting a draw prediction a while ago so it’ll be fun to see how it pans out.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Good stuff Booya.


  2. He’s been dealing with back issues on and off for much of his career; the last time they flared up seriously was towards the end of 2008-beginning of 2009.

    Even when he won Wimbledon for the first time, he had a blocked back against Lopez, but played through the pain, won that match, and then went all the way.

    As you say, I don’t think this is a career-ending problem, just that he doesn’t want to risk aggravating things before AO. It’s the right call.

    The extra day off between matches in the Grand Slams will become ever more important for Federer in his late career so that he can recover physically.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Good point Steve. The extra day off will surely help.


  3. A good decision to withdraw, for a moment I was worried that he continues to play. He really made it up to everyone who purchased ticket that day by going on court to explain. I am sure he would have won a lot more fans that day. It showed how much the game meant to him and also people who purchased tickets to watch him play too. Here is link to his on court interview http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=fFfNmee2XaI

    New of him injured might work for him as he will be flying under the radar and no expectation for him to win. Go Roger!


  4. I am pretty happy he took that decision. Even before the retirement I thought that Tsonga and then Nadal/Monfils is too much for him and he should find a way out. His game is there, he is confident, the serve was excellent before the back pain, he kept his year-end form . Let him rest and then… let the AO begin!


  5. The back injury is a bummer. I guess it’s a wait and see thing. So classy of him to address the audience. You can see how much he loves the fans!


  6. Thats actually an incredible statistic! Anybody knows which is the only other tournament from which he’s withdrawn in the past?


    BA Reply:

    OK got it. It was the 2008 Masters


    FeddyBear Reply:

    was the 2008 Paris masters, before QF match vs blake.
    in 993 matches on tour fed has never retired after stepping on court. amazing.


  7. I think it´s a good decision as he knows best his body. I support him all the way.Hope his back gets better in time for the A.O.
    I can´t recall any other player coming out to make a speech of apology when he has to withdraw.That´s why we love him, if winning was the only thing Djoko would have won ATP.comfanfav.,but Roger is still the favorite as it should be for ever, at least for me.
    Roger you are unique!Onwards to A.O.!!!


  8. He stepped on the court to personally apologize especially to those who came to see him play for the first time in their life, saying that he was very sorry for them and that he hoped they could see him in some other occasion.
    What I think is so incredible about the guy is that he is still able to authentically identify with the ‘normal’ people, actually he walks, talks and feels just like a normal person, he is so down to earth it’s amazing. He is living a Jet-Set life, he is a multimillionaire, he is crowned again and again as one of the worlds most successful athletes, he is all the time at the center of the attention, one of the most observed people on earth, one of the most influential people according to Times Magazine, and to be up there he must himself belief that he is the best, but with all this he behaves just like any other nice guy from the neighborhood.
    For those who consider him as an arrogant person, I wish I could be as arrogant as he his ;-)


  9. Thumbs up on comment by Chris on your well-written post, Ru-an. I always bristle when I see the mention of Roger being arrogant…
    Wishing Roger well on his recovery of his back injury.


  10. There was one dude who came on here and said he wasn’t going to be watching Federer anymore, because he couldn’t win anymore. I just wanted to say, “Hi dude!” We know you couldn’t keep away.


  11. Hi ru-an, let me say I have been following your blog and I presonally love your posts, u achieve something that is amazing, as a roger fan its really hard to even write as objective and honest as you do, so congrats for that.

    Its a shame Roger pulled out of semis, but he is a wise man, lets hope he is 100% for the australian open.

    Keep up the good work, honestly your blog is incredible, and as a confession it was the reason because I updated mine, u just give me the motivation I need.



    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Jon! That means a lot ;-)


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