Fed defends decision to miss French

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The Swiss star and world number three, who turns 35 in August, this week plays on the Stuttgart grass for the first time as he ramps up his preparations for Wimbledon in June-July.

"It's the grass-court season now, that's huge for me," said the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who headlines the Stuttgart event, which switched from clay a year ago and crowned Rafael Nadal its first champion on the new surface.

Federer made clear he had been disappointed by those who questioned - mostly on social media - the extent of the back injury that forced him out of Roland Garros.

Federer, who has been plagued by knee and back injuries this year, last missed a Grand Slam event in 1999 when he skipped the US Open.
"I was surprised to hear that some thought I pulled out because of the (Paris) weather," said Federer, who last tasted action when he lost to Dominic Thiem in the third round in Rome nearly a month ago.



"That (rain) had nothing to do with it -- either you are strong enough or you are not. I knew I made the right decision.

"After all these years, it's Ok to miss a major. It's not all about them anyway: it's about health, it's about feeling good about the rest of the season, my career and my life as well."



Federer, one of the best tennis players of all time after racking up 17 Grand Slam titles, said he had taken the time off from Paris to get back to fitness and spend time with his family.

The 2009 French Open champion was full of praise for Novak Djokovic after his Serb rival won the Paris title for the first time at the weekend with a four-set victory over Andy Murray.

"For tennis it's great, now he has won all of the grand slams. It's world-class, which is rare. He did it the hard way, it was wonderful how it worked out," Federer said.

The Swiss takes the top seeding at the hilltop Weissenhof club in Stuttgart and will await a second-round opponent after a bye.

He faces either US teenager Taylor Fritz or a qualifier.

"It will be a good week when I get on the court and play a match. A great week would be the semi-finals and a dream run would be to win," Federer added.

"Crazier things have happened. Everything is possible this week."


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Boris Becker hits out at Andy Murray over Brit's doping suspicions

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Becker (r) is now coach to Novak Djokovic.

Murray, ranked number two in the world behind Djokovic, has been outspoken on drug use in the sport in recent weeks and welcomed the ban imposed on Maria Sharapova following her failed test for meldonium at the Australian Open.

The Scot, who was beaten by Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final on Saturday, has also talked of being suspicious of opponents who he thought were not getting tired in matches.

And Becker, a six-time grand slam winner, has accused Murray of being “out of order”.

Speaking at the Laureus World Sport Awards, the German told the Daily Mail: “We have random drug-testing and unless it’s proven, they are 100 per cent innocent.

“So to assume something because somebody has won a grand slam or is fitter is totally out of order. Andy is one of the fittest players on the tour – he often outlasts players and nobody is questioning his ethics.

“I believe 100 per cent Andy is clean. Roger (Federer) is clean, Rafa is clean, all these guys are clean. Novak gets tested a lot. That can mean twice in a grand slam.”

Murray had told the Mail On Sunday: “I have played against players and thought, ‘They won’t go away’ or ‘They don’t seem to be getting tired’.

“Have I ever been suspicious of someone? Yeah. You hear things. It’s harder to tell in our sport as people can make big improvements to a stroke or start serving better because they have made technical changes.

“If it’s purely physical and you’re watching someone playing six-hour matches over and over and showing no signs of being tired, you’d look at that.”

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