Federer withdraws prior to Doha Semi-final due to back pain

Defending Doha champion Roger Federer pulled out of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open Friday prior to his semi-final match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The World No. 3 cited a back injury as the cause of his withdrawal. “I hurt my back in my second-round match against Zemlja and just got a little bit better for the match against Seppi,” said Federer.

“I don't feel a whole lot of improvement for today, and I just don't think it's the right time to risk anything more right now. I still have pain, and that's why it was the only right decision, a difficult one for me.”

It’s only the second time in 996 matches played that the 16-time major champion has withdrawn during a tournament. “It's a sad moment for me and for the tournament and for the fans, but health goes first, like everybody knows, unfortunately, and I hope I can recover quickly,” Federer said. “So that's No. 1 on the agenda right now.”

His only other withdrawal came at the 2008 BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, when he withdrew from his quarter-final match with James Blake. The 30 year old has never retired during a match in his career.
Federer will remain in Doha through Saturday, sticking with his original schedule to stay for the duration of the event. “I was always going to stay till tomorrow night, regardless if I was going to lose first round or win the tournament, so those plans don't change,” said Federer.

“I think I'm going to say something on the court later on, and I might be back again tomorrow for the 20th anniversary for the former champions. I'm here, anyway. So I'm happy to help the tournament.”

From Federer's facebook: "Unfortunately, I had to take the decision to pull out of semi-finals today in Doha. I had back spasms which I don’t want to aggravate. I am confident that with some treatment and exercise my back will recover fully."

Date: 06.01.2012


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