Ivan Ljubicic revealed that the decision to skip the entire clay court season was easier to make in 2018 as they were sure it will work after doing it for the first time in 2017.
Roger Federer’s coach insisted the Swiss ace needed a break after playing four tournaments since the start of the season. The 36-year-old defended his title at the Australian Open in January and added the Rotterdam Open title in February, but was unable to defend his titles at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
Federer lost in the final to Juan Marin del Potro at Indian Wells, while he succumbed in the second round at Miami to Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis. Federer indicated earlier in the season that he could play one or two events on clay this season, but, after his loss in Miami, he confirmed he will, for the second consecutive year, be skipping the entirety of the clay court season which includes the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros.
According to Ljubicic, Federer and his coaching team did not have second thoughts about skipping the French Open in 2018, unlike last year, when it was a last minute decision. The 20-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion has not competed for the La Coupe des Mousquetaires since 2015.
“This year it was easier since that in 2017 it worked. Last year Roland Garros was in dispute until the last minute, Roger had also ordered balls to practice and he was sad to skip it,” Ljubicic said on Tuesday, as quoted on Tennis World USA.
“This year we took a definite decision and we didn’t even order balls. Roger played so much and he needs to take a break. He is not an 18-year-old anymore.”
Federer spent the final six months of the 2016 season on the sidelines with a knee injury and only returned to action for the start of the 2017 season. Despite winning nine titles in the last 15 months, he played a limited schedule in order to be at his best for the important tournaments on the grass and hard courts.
The Swiss maestro will return to action when the grass court campaign begins in June at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, and begin his preparation for the Wimbledon Championships, where he is targeting an unprecedented ninth title in 2018. Federer could play the Stuttgart Open, which follows the tournament in Halle and precedes the third Grand Slam of the year at SW19 in London.
“He will be back in Halle, for Stuttgart we have not decided yet,” Ljubicic said. “In Miami he was tired, but who knows what would have happened beating (Thanasi) Kokkinakis: he may have recovered after the day off.”
“Federer has always been careful with his schedule, he stopped in order to recover also when things were going well and he also took tough decisions,” Federer’s coach added.