“Not a Tune-up Tournament”: Former US Davis Cup Captain Upset With Roger Federer’s French Open 2021 Withdrawal

Published 06/07/2021, 2:39 AM CDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 5, 2021 Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts during his third round match against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Former tennis player Patrick McEnroe has shared his thoughts on the disappointing withdrawal of Roger Federer from the French Open, saying he shouldn’t have played if he had genuine fitness concerns going into the tournament.


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Federer, who ground out a grueling win over Dominik Koepfer of Germany to reach the last-16 at Roland-Garros, released a statement on Sunday saying he had withdrawn from the tournament on the advice of his team.

Speaking to reporters after the win, the champion had hinted at pulling out to give his knees enough rest ahead of Wimbledon.


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Shouldn’t have shown up for French Open: Patrick McEnroe on Roger Federer

With reference to a Federer piece run by the New York Times in the light of his withdrawal, McEnroe said that while he holds the Swiss ace in the highest esteem, he shouldn’t have “shown up” at the French Open if he had an inkling that he wouldn’t last the entire tournament.

“To me, he shouldn’t have shown up for the tournament if he knew that this was a strong likelihood, which it sounds like he knew it was going in,” said the former non-playing captain of the US Davis Cup team.

While saying that Federer looked very good and set himself up for a “good run at Wimbledon,” he said that Roland-Garros should have meant a lot more to him than merely getting into gear for All-England.

I get it but still don’t like it: McEnroe on Federer’s withdrawal

He added that the French Open is a Grand Slam and not a “tune-up event” and he hopes the Swiss would return to the Roland-Garros and play the full event, like anyone should.

“This is a Major, it’s not a tune-up tournament. This is the French Open. I hope that Federer comes back again next year and can play in front of a full audience because no one wants to see him, Rafa or Novak, when they’re done, go out with a few people in the stands.

“I understand it, I get it but I still don’t like it,” the American said.

Dwelling further on the subject, he said it’s one thing going into an event fit and then breaking down with an injury and quite another to play despite concerns around fitness.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 3, 2021 Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during his second round match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

He said one can’t come into a Grand Slam and not play “physically demanding” matches.


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“He’s trying to get himself ready to make a run at Wimbledon, which I believe he’s done. He can do whatever he wants. He’s earned this right, and I understand that, but I still don’t like it,” said the younger brother of John McEnroe.


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As a result of Federer‘s pullout from Roland-Garros, Italian Matteo Berrettini got a walkover into the quarter-finals.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.