Roger Federer will play in his first clay court tournament since the 2016 Italian Open after okaying his participation at the 2019 Madrid Masters.
Federer, who has opted out of clay as a part of his strategy to prolong his career, had been rumoured to be thinking of returning back to the surface and even participating at the French Open. He last played at this major in 2015, missing the tournament at Roland-Garros over the next three years.
In his last appearance at the French Open, Federer had made it to the quarter-finals before going down to Stan Wawrinka.
Federer’s announcement around his participation at the Madrid Masters comes after he had spoken about a possibility about returning to play on clay during the Australian Open. He had said he was at the stage of his career where he was looking to enjoy himself rather than think of rankings.
What’s interesting to note is that this decision from Federer, while being welcomed by fans, has also a different angle to it with some reckoning it could be a sign that this is the 20-time major winner’s swansong season. Federer, for now, has kept his cards close to the chest.
— Mutua Madrid Open (@MutuaMadridOpen) February 20, 2019
In a media release, the Madrid Masters tournament director Feliciano Lopez said the competition was excited to have Federer feature in Madrid. He added:
“We are happy because his return to Madrid is a gift for the tournament, but above all for the fans because they will be able to see a unique player.”
Lopez also pointed out that along with Federer, the other top-ranked players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will also participate in the tournament which makes it a brilliant competition to follow.
The Madrid Masters will be played between May 3 and 12 and will be used by many of these top players as a tune-up to the 2019 French Open. Federer has slipped down to number seven in the world rankings but having not played in clay before this means he has no points to defend there and a few good results might push up his rankings.