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Roger Federer opts out of French Open while Sharapova awaits fate


By Robert Jones

Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has announced he will not participate in the French Open.

Federer beat rival Rafael Nadal to claim the Australian Open title in January but, at 35, has made the decision to skip the entire clay court season to remain in peak condition.

In an open letter addressed to his fans on, he explained his absence from Roland Garros was part of his bid to "try and play on the ATP World Tour for many years to come".

Federer's note read: "Regrettably, I've decided not to participate in the French Open. I've been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month but in order to try and play on the ATP World Tour for many years to come, I feel it's best to skip the clay court season this year and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons.

"The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognise that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward.

"Thus, my team and I concluded today that playing just one event on clay was not in the best interest of my tennis and physical preparation for the remainder of the season.

"I will miss the French fans, who have always been so supportive, and I look forward to seeing them at Roland Garros next year."

The Swiss also missed last year's French Open through injury, the first time he failed to make the trip to Paris since his debut in 1999.

He won the tournament for the only time in 2009 and is a four-time runner-up.

Meanwhile, three tournaments into her return from a 15-month doping ban, Maria Sharapova has already gained enough ranking points to enter qualifying for Wimbledon.

The five-time Grand Slam winner took advantage of another wild card and overcame a shaky opening set to defeat 58th-ranked Christina McHale 6-4 6-2 in the first round of the Italian Open yesterday.

The win earned Sharapova enough points to enter the top 200 of the rankings and earn at least a spot in qualifying for Wimbledon.

"Winning matches will get me places, so if that's where it got me today, then I will take it," said Sharapova, who entered this week at World No.211. "The fact that I'm back and playing three weeks in a row now is a big deal. That's my focus."

Sharapova will learn today if she will be granted a wildcard for the French Open, with Roland Garros organisers planning an announcement on Facebook.

"I won't be following it. I will be focused on my match," Sharapova said, adding that she would accept a qualifying wildcard. "Nothing is a disappointment after being away for 15 months."

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