Roger Federer has pulled out of the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, a ATP 500 event, after the former world number one lost in the Qatar Open quarter-finals on Thursday, his first tournament in more than a year.
The 39-year-old Swiss, who returned to action after two knee operations last year, beat Briton Dan Evans in three sets in his comeback match in Doha but lost 3-6 6-1 7-5 to Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the next round.
“It’s been great to be back on the @atptour, loved every minute playing in Doha once again,” 20-times Grand Slam winner Federer said on social media.
“I’ve decided it’s best to go back to training and as a result, I’ve decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.”
Federer is an eight-times Dubai champion and claimed his 100th Tour-level title at the tournament in 2019. He has already decided not to defend his Miami Open title at the March 22-April 4 Masters 1000 event.
Federer had targeted a return at last month’s Australian Open but skipped the Grand Slam and said he said he would play in events that would help him regain fitness before Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, world No.2 Rafa Nadal, has also pulled out of the Dubai event, where he was offered a wild card. “I would like to thank the @DDFTennis for the wild card invitation sent to me,” Nadal said on Twitter.
“We seriously thought about coming to play, but I don’t think I am ready to play yet.” Nadal is still entered at the Miami Open, an ATP 1000 event to be held from March 24-April 4.
The men’s field in Dubai will now be headed by reigning US Open champion and world No.4 Dominic Thiem, who will be in competition for the title against 2021 Rotterdam champion and world number eight Andrey Rublev, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Denis Shapovalov, 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut, 2021 Montpellier winner David Goffin and 2020 US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.