Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget and 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert have backed Roger Federer's decision to pull out of the French Open, but Patrick McEnroe believes the Swiss' withdrawal "devalues the Major".
Roger Federer pulled out of the French Open on Sunday, a day before his fourth-round match against Matteo Berrettini, citing the need to take care of his body ahead of the grasscourt season.
His decision evoked a mixed response from the tennis fraternity, with some criticizing the 20-time Major champion and others backing his move.
Guy Forget said he understood Roger Federer's stance as the Swiss had not played too many matches at the highest level in the lead-up to Roland Garros. Forget said Federer had felt minor discomfort over the course of the tournament.
"He hasn't played a lot over the past 16 months," Forget said. "He had a very short preparation on this area, and despite everything he came. Obviously, he was not yet prepared for a series of matches at this level. He told me earlier that it is when he gets up in the morning that he sees how he feels. He has small discomforts, inflammatory pains."
Chris Evert believes Roger Federer should have a "free rein" to do as he pleases, given how much he has contributed to the sport in the last couple of decades.
Evert pointed out that Wimbledon remains Federer's biggest goal and that he was right in wanting to preserve his body ahead of the grasscort Major.
"I think Roger has free rein to do whatever he wants," Evert told Reuters. "He has paid his dues, he's 39, his goal is Wimbledon on the grass, his dream tournament, where the rallies are shorter and it favors mobility and power. I think he surprised himself that he got to the second week of the French."
"I think he was using it as practice matches but obviously with the wear and tear, when he hasn't played for such a long time, takes its toll on a 39-year-old body," she added. "I'm 100% behind him and it shouldn't be a knock to the tournament. He wants to be the best prepared for Wimbledon."
I understand Roger Federer's decision, but I still don’t like it: Patrick McEnroe
Patrick McEnroe, a former doubles champion at Roland Garros, claimed Roger Federer's decision "devalues the Major" and that pulling out in the middle of the tournament did not send the right message.
“I understand it, but I don’t like it,” Patrick McEnroe said. “It devalues the Major, and it gives someone in the draw a walkover. It gives arguably an advantage to somebody else. They play one less match.”
“It’s just not a great look to pull out of a tournament in the middle. It’s one thing if you sprain an ankle badly and finish a match on adrenaline. Those things happen. But it’s another thing when you kind of go into a tournament knowing that you probably aren’t going to be able to really finish the tournament. "
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