One of the most impressive streaks in recent sports history will come to an end: For the first this century, Roger Federer will not be playing in a Grand Slam, as he announced this morning on his Facebook page that he did not recover in time to play the French Open, which starts on Sunday:
Federer snapping his 65 MD Slam appearance streak. Major. pic.twitter.com/GooUs1tryf
— René Denfeld (@Renestance) May 19, 2016
Federer, 34, has won just three matches since the Australian Open. Despite all his ailments this year though, from illness in January, to knee surgery following Australia, to more illness in Miami, and then back problems in the clay season, Federer missing a Grand Slam didn’t really seem to be possible. Whether you’re a fan of his or one of his contemporaries, the man has been an institution, ever present for the last decade and a half.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) May 19, 2016
All streaks come to an end though, and Federer’s Slam streak stops at 65. This was the best move though, as he has not won the French Open since his lone title in 2009 and has not reached the final since 2011, when he stunningly ended Novak Djokovic’s undefeated season in the semifinals. His clay prowess has declined since then and his true shot at an 18th major will come at Wimbledon. Combine that with the upcoming Olympics, and Federer’s quest for a singles gold medal, and there was little point in playing a couple best-of-five matches on clay and making his back worse.
Federer’s absence is a huge boon to the favorites in the tournament. 9-time champion Rafael Nadal moves up to the fourth seed, meaning he and Novak Djokovic are not subject to the 25% chance of repeating their quarterfinal meeting from last year. Instead, the two favorites cannot meet until the semifinals. This very much evens out the entire men’s draw, as everyone would have wanted to be as close as possible to Federer in the draw. Now the three favorites (Djokovic, Nadal, Andy Murray) and defending champion Stan Wawrinka all have their own quarter of the draw.
Also benefitting are Milos Raonic (moves from 9-12 group to 5-8 group), David Goffin (from 13-16 to 9-12) and Federico Delbonis, who is now seeded (and cannot play a fellow seed until the third round).