Roger Federer withdrew from the ATP and WTA Miami Open on Friday with a stomach illness only hours before his scheduled return from a two-month layoff following left knee surgery.
The 34-year-old Swiss star, winner of a men’s record 17 grand slam singles titles but none since Wimbledon in 2012, was replaced by lucky loser Horacio Zeballos for a second-round match against Argentine compatriot Juan Martin Del Potro.
“Sorry for him, sorry for the tournament, sorry for the fans,” said long-time Federer rival Rafael Nadal when told the news.
“It’s good it’s a stomach problem and not the knee, but it’s the same for this tournament.”
Federer won at Miami in 2005 and 2006 but has not reached the final since. This marks the third time in four years he has missed the event.
World No. 3 Federer, who appeared well Thursday in speaking with reporters, has not played since losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals two months ago.
The next morning, Federer suffered a torn meniscus making a simple move as he was preparing to bathe his children.
Sounds like Federer is out with flu. Got to feel for Miami. And the fans. But he doesn't pull out without good reason.— DavidLaw (@DavidLawTennis) March 25, 2016
“I turned. I turned back. I felt a click in my knee,” Federer said Thursday. “It was a very simple movement, one I’ve done a million times. I’m glad it didn’t happen on a tennis court, where I could have strained it more.”
Federer said he had not expected to be ready in time to play at Miami and warned that if he felt a knee problem he would not take part, but ATP officials confirmed he was suffering from a gastric virus and did not withdraw over any issue with the knee.
“Expectations are really low, which is nice for a change,” Federer said Thursday. “I didn’t expect myself to be back here quite honestly after the surgery.”
Meanwhile, reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and Czech No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych both advanced to the third round.
Kerber, the No. 2 seed from Germany, downed Czech Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-1 while Berdych, the Miami runner-up in 2010, won by walkover when American Rajeev Ram withdrew due to illness.
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