Roger Federer has had a stunning hard-court season, and tennis fans were hoping to see his skills in the upcoming French Open, but the Swiss maestro has decided to skip the second grand slam of the year.
The year 2017 has seen Federer rolling back the years, with the fans entertained to the hilt. However, it is a big disappointment for his supporters, who would have loved to see him in action during the French Open. He has always been a crowd favourite, irrespective of where he plays.
The former world number one did not play in any of the clay court tournaments this year, as he wanted to take rest before the French Open. While there were doubts over his participation at Roland Garros, he cleared the air, announcing that he will not play in the French Open. Federer wants to concentrate on the grass and hard court seasons.
"I've decided not to participate in the French Open. I feel it's best to skip the clay court season this year and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons. The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward," Federer wrote on his official website.
"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."
During Federer's absence, Rafael Nadal has shown some blistering form on the clay court, which comes as no surprise. The Spaniard is the best ever to have played on the red surface.
After easing to three straight titles (Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and Madrid Open) in the recent past, leading up to the French Open, one thought if vintage Federer would be able to produce positive results against such an in-form Nadal. However, that will not be the case with Federer's absence.
There is no doubting the class of Murray and Djokovic, who are ranked one and two respectively. However, both Murray and Djokovic have not shown the kind of form expected from them in 2017.
Though Nadal been the most dominant player in the French Open, Murray and Djokovic are also quality players on any surface. They have the game to beat any player in the world, and on any surface.
They need to bring last season's French Open form, where Djokovic clinched the title while Murray finished runners-up, if they are to stun Nadal.
The ongoing Italian Open is Murray and Djokovic's last chance to get back to form ahead of the French Open. Nadal is the overwhelming favourite in the Italian Open, but if either Murray or Djokovic wins the title, the winner can head into the Roland Garros with their heads held high and carry that form into the competition as well.
For a quality French Open, one needs Murray and Djokovic playing their best tennis, and giving Nadal a run for his money on his favourite dirt.