Nadal, Djokovic not surprised by Federer's French Open withdrawal

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The Swiss hasn't played on clay all year, and is saving himself for grass and hard courts. (AP)

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were not surprised by Roger Federer's decision not to play the French Open.

Nadal, who has moved in front of Federer to No. 4 in the rankings during the clay-court season, pointed to Federer's lack of clay-court play going into the tournament.

"Everybody does what feels better for them, and [that] is normal,” Nadal said. “If he doesn't play no one tournament before the French, is normal that he finally skip the French, no?

"Probably he had that decision before. Probably he doesn't want to announce before. But thinking in a logical way, is strange that if you don't play on clay in not one event and then you start on the biggest one­­—playing best of five—will be not very logical thing. So is normal his decision when he decided to not play in not one event before."


No. 2-ranked Djokovic added that Federer would be looking to play more on surfaces that are favorable to his game.

"[I]t's Roger, so he has the luxury to decide whatever he wants to and play whatever he wants to," said Djokovic. "I mean, he's been so successful throughout his career that he doesn't need necessarily to chase the points or play all the tournaments  ... You know, he's very smart in his decision-making and scheduling. He knows what he's doing, I'm sure.

"Of course he's aware he has [a] much better chance to win big trophies on quicker surfaces. Grass, obviously, is where he feels the most comfortable ... I'm not too surprised with this decision. I mean, he had a lot of matches played at the beginning of the year, and he did amazingly well."

Both players agreed that the move has become more unusual in recent years, with Nadal noting that the ranking system now requires higher-ranked players to play all the big events. 

"It's something that we haven't seen, you know, from the top players in a while," said Djokovic. "Most of, let's say, us top players, have played throughout the whole season, more or less all the big events ... If you go back, you know, 20 years or more, many players [were] skipping, for example, [the] Australian Open.

"And, yeah, it was more common before. Now not anymore, so that's maybe why it's a little more surprising, because all the top players are playing big events."

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