In a somewhat surprising move, Roger Federer will play just one clay-court tournament in 2016, that being Roland Garros.
The 34-year-old released a tentative schedule on Thursday and will play fairly heavily from January through beginning of March. Federer will play Brisbane and the Australian Open to open the season; afterwards, he will enter Rotterdam and Dubai. But after Indian Wells, Federer will skip the next four ATP Masters 1000 events, in Miami (hard courts), Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome (all clay courts).
Federer will only play five ATP Mastes 1000s next year: Indian Wells, Canada, Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris.
The ATP allows players to skip a number of Masters events if they have played 600 matches, have been on tour for least 12 years and are 31 years old. Federer has met all of those requirements.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion has played on clay since he began on tour in 1999. Since winning Roland Garros for the first time in 2009, he has won just two clay tournaments, the 2012 ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid, and a smaller tournament at Istanbul earlier this year.
This past season, Federer lost to Gael Monfils in the third round of Monte Carlo and to Nick Kyrgios in his Madrid opener. He reached the final in Rome by beating Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals, but fell to Novak Djokovic. At Roland Garros, Federer lost to Wawrinka in the quarters.
Federer's schedule will ramp up in the summer. On grass, he will enter Stuttgart, Halle and Wimbledon. On hard courts, he will play at Canada, the Rio Olympics, Cincinnati and the U.S. Open.
Federer recently said that he will play mixed doubles at the Olympics with Martina Hingis, and he will also play singles. He and Wawrinka have yet to decide if they will play the doubles; the two won gold in 2008.