ATP Masters 1000Mutua Madrid OpenRoger Federer

Federer Withdraws from Madrid With Back Injury

It never rains but it pours for Roger Federer in 2016 as he's just announced his withdrawal from the Madrid Open due to a back injury. I heard on Twitter earlier today he had cancelled two practice sessions which wasn't a great sign and the Swiss made his withdrawal official in a press conference at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center this afternoon.

Federer Madrid Practice
Federer Picked up the Back Injury During Practice on Saturday

According to Roger it's a recurrence of the back injury which has intermittently affected him throughout his career. It's not as bad as the one sustained prior to the Davis Cup final (in his own words) so now he hopes to be fit for Roland Garros and will also play in Rome if he recovers in the next few days.

So another not so good news item to add onto the list for 2016 and after starting well in Australia Fed's season so far has been completely derailed. Knee, stomach bug and now back mean he's only played 3 tournaments and 13 matches.

What do you guys think of this latest setback? Can he make a speedy recovery? Let me know in the comments.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. Just saw this on twitter Jonathan. 🙁 This is fast becoming a very depressing year for us fedfans.

    1. Yeah same, thought I’d do a quick post to act as injury talk and pre discussion thread rather than flood the Madrid draw one.

      Fed original plans – no clay season. Gets injured – full clay season. Now – no clay season 😆

  2. I’m trying very hard to remain optimistic, but it does look as though the body is starting to rebel, which would hardly be surprising when you consider he’s played over 1300 matches – more than anyone else on tour. Ferrer (just 34) has played over 1000 and he’s been out quite a bit recently also. 🙁

    Obviously it would be stupid to push it, but I do hope he is able to recover and play at the Rome tournament. Hopefully he’s just tweaked it and a bit of physio over the next week will be sufficient.

    1. He did say it’s not as bad as Davis Cup and at least he knows what it is so he can go about fixing it. Never really specified what the issue actually is though – muscle injury?

      Shame about the back really, I think it could have cost him a few titles in recent years. Not directly because of injury but I think if he added some extra muscle mass onto the upper body it might help from the back of court and on high backhands. But that extra weight puts more strain on it.

      I wonder if fresh eyes on fitness regime might help? Pure speculation of course that he can or should do anything different.

      1. Maybe some kind muscle spasm that happens when you start practicing without some kind of work up, just guessing. Anyhow, I wish him speedy recovery, an do agree with some here, playing 1300 match has its toll at the end

      2. He’s referred to a muscle spasm in the past.

        Only just discovered this – been working all afternoon 🙁 Really worried when I started doing the maths: if he wasn’t due to play until Wednesday, as Jon said previously, and he injured it on Saturday, then I think that’s longer than any other instance I’m aware of apart from the WTF/DC one, which was Saturday night to (below par) playing a match on Friday. I’m hoping he *is* just being careful …

        Glad he managed to get those matches in MC in, then – thinking of various effects a complete 3-month layoff might have had 🙁

    2. No, I don’t think more muscle would help. He is not a power player who relies on brute arm strength to muscle the ball. He uses his footwork and technique to position himself perfectly and generate maximum power with his torso and legs, he uses his arm strength fairly rarely. He’s like a ballet dancer–they don’t look bulky but they are very strong in their legs and core. It’s a different kind of strength than a bodybuilder’s.

      The whole point of the new racket was to allow him to generate more power without having to put on more upper body mass. If he did, he’d get injured much more easily, and it would shorten his career. It would also slow him down noticeably and affect his defensive skills.

      The leaner he is the better, IMO. Especially the older he gets. Better to concentrate on strengthening his core and back muscles, which I’m sure he does constantly. I don’t think there’s much we can teach the guy about his fitness regimen; you can’t be #3 at his age without seriously thinking about how to maintain your body, no matter how much talent you’ve got. After 2013 he’s definitely been much more careful about dealing with minor injuries to make sure they aren’t aggravated into severe ones.

      For age 34 and having played 1300 competitive matches, he’s doing great. There are people who’ve injured themselves permanently playing just a fraction of that amount. We just have to accept that it’s going to take more time for him to recover than it used to. Keep in mind he had knee surgery, it’s not like he had a cold or something.

      1. “He uses his footwork and technique to position himself perfectly and generate maximum power with his torso and legs, he uses his arm strength fairly rarely”

        To a point yes, but you can’t rely on that alone. You use different muscle groups when the ball is above a certain height because you’re swinging down a different plain. These muscles that fatigue quicker. I have no doubt that if Fed added some muscle mass on the upper body, it would benefit his game. But it might also be harder on his back, which negates the positive effect. I would imagine his fitness coach etc know the risk and decided against it.

        “The whole point of the new racket was to allow him to generate more power without having to put on more upper body mass.”

        Not true. If that was the case he would have gotten a lighter racquet. He hasn’t The racquet is not more powerful. It’s just a larger head size which gives more stability on off centre hits. So there’s more margin for error when you’re slightly later on the ball and on higher bouncing balls.

        Whilst I agree Fed has a great fitness regimen, to say that there’s not much he can be taught I disagree, there’s always something to learn and I’m sure there are plenty guys out there who could add some new thinking.

      2. He has said on several occasions it gives him easier power. Whether that’s a reflection on the power of the racquet or his own confidence on swinging because of extra leeway from the width is another question. But the racquet certainly seems to provide him with more power, by his own admission. He just rarely uses it.

    1. I was going to say that is ridiculous, but then I just read Federer reckons he can still win the French Open 😆 so it’s not that bad.

      I guess he can still win on clay but it’s so unlikely. What was his last win on Red Clay before Istanbul? The French Open? Nadal obviously a big part of that but still.

      1. He made the final last year with ease he missed a chance in the first set in the final so hes not completely out of it

    2. I believe he will win Roland Garros at least once more before he retires. Maybe this year, maybe not, but he will do it at some point.

    1. He said that is his target, Roland Garros but Wimbledon at the latest.

      I bet Stuttgart and Halle are crapping it though. Although tickets will have flown out the door already so not so bad. Might effect on the day revenues though.

  3. That’s unexpected news…..Hopefully he recovers well for 2nd half of the year for Grass and HC season….It has to be tough days…

    1. Yup lot of tennis still to come. Lot of question marks over Fed’s body know though, is it just unlucky or are things falling off?

      1. yeah, I really hope its just unlucky timings, but at the same time its impossible to stop feeling as later could be the case…

      2. “I mean, I am frustrated,” he said. “I’m a little sad of course not to be playing here. At the same time, I’m still upbeat that the back issue is going to go away. I would rather have it being the back than the knee. So, from that standpoint I see it as more positive than negative, to be honest.”

        Roger still sounds positive, hope he things turn around…

      3. Ljubicic was smart enough to figure out that this would be the easiest coaching job on the world. 🙂

        Well, this is Roger’s last year to win any kind of slam. Why not go completely fit into the June-September stretch? Maybe even pick up the Rio gold on the way?

        He’s got to win one of the next four big titles.

  4. Depressing news, but I think it’s a sign that he’s being more conscientious about the state of his body. Maybe four years ago he would have just ignored the signs and played through the pain, and ended up injuring himself more seriously. Most likely it’s a minor flare-up, like what happened at WTF in 2014, that will clear up with a few days’ rest.

    He’s got a jam-packed season ahead of him so it won’t do to hurt himself. And it’s not easy to go back to playing competitive matches after a three-month layoff. He got some matches in MC so at least he’s not going into Rome totally cold. I wouldn’t despair just yet.

    1. “Most likely it’s a minor flare-up, like what happened at WTF in 2014”

      That wasn’t a minor flair up. Watch the vid – he said the one before Davis Cup at the WTF in 2014 was the most extreme back pain he’s ever had.

  5. There are ups and there are downs. The line is seldom straight one direction, being it down or up.. But of course this is a bit worrying. Well I hope he is just very careful, and that his strength is still going strong – maybe even stronger – generally. And why not? (He looked strong mostly in MC)

  6. I guess in 2013 he played lots of games in pain and that didn’t help. He’s smart and surrounded by smart guys, I guess he’s planning an end game we are still not aware.

  7. If I did not have a ‘real life’ I’d cry my eyes out. This is just too much to bear for a Fed fan. I seriously hope this is not the beginning of the end. He’s incredibly strong mentally off court so I trust he will work his way back, provided his body agrees of course.

  8. I would say to Susie and Wanda…thank your lucky stars you got to see Roger play this year.

    Fed said his body would tell him when to pack it in….hope his body isn’t talking now.

    I agree Jonathan, there are many therapies for bad backs. But, and I know from personal experience, a bad back is like a coat hanger. You can straighten it out but it’s never quite the same. The kinks remain.

    Fingers crossed for Roma.

    1. Yeah, I still live with the sensation and emotion I got from the moment when he came into the practice court.

  9. We are all so lucky to have again enjoyed Roger preform at a good level in Monte Carlo and make an impressive return from knee surgery. I think it’s sensible he is not risking his health in any way by playing Madrid. Disappointing as it is to not see him play, does anyone really want to see him not in top shape and possibly perform sub optimally?
    Hopefully he is genuinely in better shape than pre Davis Cup as he says and there is still a full calendar ahead with the 3 majors and Olympics to go.
    Just have to trust that RF knows best how to pace himself which he has managed to do so admirably in his career to date.

  10. Must be a curse on the hair cut. Life sucks without him but good news is he’s still positive. And more time for his hair to grow. Let get through this boring time together, Fed fans!

  11. Was so happy that Fed was back
    And then the news about his back
    A matter of getting priorities right
    Rest today, for tomorrow to fight

    Fed should ditch clay to preserve his bid for Wimby, Rio & US Open. The French Open be damned.

    1. Granted, but he can’t come into a slam and expect to win it without any confidence… :/ 2012 came after a stretch of some pretty big wins…

    2. Yeah needs some matches. I guess it worked for Murray in 2013 to basically skip clay. Would need to do well at Stuttgart and Halle you feel to stand a shot at Wimbledon. Surprised he lost to Djoker there 2 times in a row tbh.

  12. I dont think he’s much interested in playing the clay season this year so although he may enter the odd tournament for some matches he’s not going to do anything to jeopardise his summer fitness. And after hardly playing in 3 months I shouldn’t think he wanted to play Nadal, Murray and Djok in quick succession. I’m not saying he tanked but it must be a factor if you are not fully fit. I shouldn’t think he ever wants to play Nadal on clay again anyway

    There are a lot of commentators writing his obituary already – again! No need to be too pessimistic though. Its disappointing and may be the beginning of the end and he may not win really big again but I suspect he will play the second half of this year and a diminished schedule in 2017 and do well enough.

    He might play Rome but will def play RG because the consecutive slam record seems important to him. Probably wants to get those couple of matches to overtake Lendl out the way as well.

  13. I think it’s easy to be worried and look more into this, but really all of these things are isolated. The knee was one of those things, stomach bugs happen to anyone and the back is always an issue now and then. The best thing we can do really is scale back any sort of expectations for the clay season, and hope Fed gets enough matches to gear up for when his season really starts in Halle. If he can get to Halle with a good few more matches under his belt I think we can push on from here and have a decent season. It’s been a bit stop start but I’m not worried about “his body may be failing him”, if he gets matches I’m sure he’ll be where we want him to be.

  14. There have been so many “beginning of the end”s that it hard to not feel embarrassed speculating.

    One day there will be a beginning of the end, but we probably won’t know for sure until everyone knows for sure.

    I don’t think he’s got any realistic shot to win on clay past the 500s anyway – not with Rafa and Nole around and always having 4-5 more years of youth on him.

    I would say it would be a success for him to make it to the 3d round of RG at this point.

    I’m glad he’s not taking chances. Save it for the grass.

  15. Yeah don’t worry Fed s got another 2 or 3 years to go and hopefully a slam in there too!
    Even if not though he ll still be like Elvis to RnR or the Beatles to Pop or the Stones for Rock in other words the Greatest OAT!

    I m always around following RF and PRF-T allthough extremely busy with a lot of work and 3 kids ( Fed fans too )

    Now I ve got FB too – had to get it before my daughter did so I ll also follow , like give thumb ups and so on!

    So , my best regards to Jonathan and all Fed fans of PT!

  16. So, tomorrow, either Murray wins and retains the No. 2 ranking, or Nadal wins … and then, who knows what might happen? I can’t decide which would be worse.

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