Back injury in semis prevents Swiss ace from taking on Novak Djokovic in title clash
London: Roger Federer pulled out of his ATP Tour Finals showdown with Novak Djokovic just before the final was due to start on Sunday because of a back injury, casting doubt on his fitness ahead of the Davis Cup final.
Roger Federer during his on-court interview after pull-out of final
Federer, 33, felt unable to take part in the showpiece clash at London's O2 Arena after suffering the back problem during Saturday's gruelling three-set semi-final victory over Swiss compatriot Wawrinka.
"Unfortunately I'm not match fit to play match tonight. Clearly I wish it wasn't this way. You try all year to be ready for the ATP World Tour Finals and I didn't want to end this way," six-time Tour Finals champion Federer told the crowd during an on-court interview.
'I tried everything'
"I'm sorry I'm here in a tracksuit. I wish it weren't so. I tried everything I could last night and today — painkillers, rest — until the very end, but I can't compete at this level with Novak. In a final like this and at my age, it would be too risky. I hope you understand."
Novak Djokovic lifts the ATP World Tour Finals trophy at London's O2 Arena on Sunday for the third successive year. Pics/AFP
"I hurt my back late in the match yesterday against Stan. I am very disappointed and I hope to be feeling better soon," Federer said. "It's been an extremely difficult decision because I love playing in London and the ATP World Tour Finals have been an absolute highlight of my career. Unfortunately, my back problem does not allow me to play right now. I hope all tennis fans will understand."
Sunday's withdrawal was only the third walkover of Federer's career. Speculation of a withdrawal mounted when Federer, who took nearly three hours to defeat Wawrinka in a match that didn't finish until nearly 11.30pm local time, failed to show up for a scheduled practice session on Sunday afternoon.
The world number two then confirmed his decision to pull out following the Bryan brothers' victory in the doubles final With Federer sidelined, Djokovic was awarded the Tour Finals title for the third successive year — making him the first player to achieve that feat since Ivan Lendl in the 1980s. It was hardly the way the World No 1 would have wanted to take the silverware however.
Sunday’s withdrawal was only the third walkover by Roger Federer in his career