Roger Federer begins quest for ninth Wimbledon title just shy of 40th birthday after French Open withdrawal

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Roger Federer will today begin his preparations to become the oldest Wimbledon singles champion for well over a century after withdrawing from the French Open.

Instead of a fourth-round meeting with Matteo Berrettini at Roland Garros today, Federer has already turned his focus onto the grass and a quest for a ninth Wimbledon title just a month shy of his 40th birthday.

Should he prove successful, Federer will become the oldest winner since Arthur Gore, who was 41 when he lifted the title in 1909.

Federer has played only a handful of matches since undergoing double knee surgery but appeared to come away from the French Open relatively unscathed.

He is expected to return to competitive action at his traditional Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle in a weeks’ time before opening up his Wimbledon challenge.

After overcoming Dominik Koepfer in four tight sets and three-and-a-half hours, the 20-time Grand Slam champion had hinted he was weighing up pulling out of the French Open to focus on his season goal of Wimbledon.

And later on social media, he wrote: “After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of the French Open today. After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery. I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt.”

Former Wimbledon champions Boris Becker and Chris Evert backed Federer’s decision to pull out and hand Berrettini a walkover.

Becker told Eurosport: “About any other player you would have said, ‘how can he just throw Koepfer out and then quit?’ but Roger has earned that.”

Evert, meanwhile, added: “I think Roger has earned the right to do anything he wants in tennis right now. Wimbledon is his dream, that’s the golden tournament for him and that’s where his game with the less rallies, more about serving, quicker points and that’s truly what his goal is. He should be excused for any withdrawal he has.”

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