Federer to play only Roland Garros in 2020 clay season

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Swiss great, Roger Federer will play only the French Open in the 2020 clay-court season, according to his agent, Tony Godsick.

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There had been speculation that Federer will compete at Masters 1000 tournaments on the clay of Madrid and Rome this season, but Godsick says that is not the case, with the Swiss maestro’s schedule listing Roland Garros as his only clay-court event.

“As his schedule states, he plans on playing just Roland Garros,” said Godsick.

The Swiss won his solitary French Open title in 2009, beating Robin Soderling in the final, while he’s lost four other finals to great rival, Rafael Nadal.

Federer has been cutting down his schedule in the last few seasons in a bid to prolong his illustrious career and boost his chances of claiming more major titles.

The 38-year-old sat out the entire clay-court season in 2017 and 2018, but he returned in 2019, playing Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. Federer was a decent 9-2 on clay last season, reaching quarter finals in Madrid and Rome, and the semi-finals at the French Open. His only defeats were against arguably the two current best players on the surface- Dominic Thiem in Madrid and Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. He pulled out of a scheduled quarter final meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome due to a leg injury.

The Swiss claimed titles in Dubai, Miami, Halle and Basel last season, but failed to add to his Grand Slam collection, falling agonizingly short at Wimbledon, where he held two match points in a five-set epic against Novak Djokovic. He did not make any other major semi-final, falling to Tsitsipas in the fourth round of the Australian Open, and to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter finals at the US Open.

Federer has played just one tournament so far this season. After pulling out of the inaugural ATP Cup, the Swiss began his year at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-finals before falling in straight sets to Djokovic.

After making a bright start to the tournament, taking out Steve Johnson and Filip Krajinovic in straight sets, Federer was made to work extremely hard through the rest of the draw. He needed five sets against John Millman in the third round, battling back from 8-4 down in the deciding set tie break to pull off a stunning comeback. The 20-time major champion got through Marton Fucsovics in four sets in the fourth round, before launching a monumental escape against Tennys Sandgren in the last eight, saving seven match points to secure a miraculous 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 6-3 victory.

The Swiss struggled physically during his victory over Sandgren and required a medical time out after the third set, raising doubts over his fitness ahead of a semi-final against defending champion, Djokovic. Federer did take to the court against Djokovic, and started very well, but he faded rapidly and succumbed to a 7-6 6-4 6-3 defeat.

Federer has now gone seven majors without adding to his collection. The most recent of his 20 Grand Slam titles was at the 2018 Australian Open. Since then, Nadal, on 19 majors, has moved within one Slam of equaling Federer’s record, while Djokovic is now only three behind on 17.

The Swiss however believes he can still add to his Grand Slam count.

“Yes, I do believe that,” Federer said at the Australian Open when asked if he thought he could still win a major.

“I think by having the year that I had last year, also with what I have in my game, how I’m playing, I do feel that, yeah.”

Federer is next scheduled to play in Dubai, where he is the defending champion, before competing at the Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. He will have a bit of a break after that, before resuming his season at Roland Garros.