TORONTO — France’s Gael Monfils was in the midst of his first-round match at the Rogers Cup when the tennis world received some surprising news on Tuesday.
Roger Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, announced that due to a knee injury he would not only be missing the upcoming Rio Olympics, but that he would also be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
After Monfils finished his match, which he won 6-3, 6-3 against Joao Sousa, he arrived to his press conference and was asked for his thoughts on the Federer news. One problem, though. He hadn’t heard about it yet.
“Oh, yeah? Why?” Monfils responded after being told of Federer’s announcement. The press informed him it was because of an injury.
“Well, I'm sorry for him. I just — I'm sorry for him. I don't know. I haven't read, but I'm very sorry for him,” Monfils said.
“I love Roger, so obviously -- I just finished my match. I have no idea. I'm very sorry for him, that's for sure.”
Federer made the announcement via his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
“Considering all options after consulting with my doctors and my team, I have made the very difficult decision to call an end to my 2016 season as I need more extensive rehabilitation following my knee surgery earlier this year,” he wrote. “The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.”
Fifteen-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who shares a birthday with Federer — Aug. 8 —said the news was "pretty sad for tennis."
"Obviously we wanted to see him play in the U.S. Open and many more tournaments this year. But I think, you know, he obviously knows what he's doing. I think if he's taking off for the rest of the season, that means he really needs to recover and he needs to get fit for next year," Auger-Aliassime said of the player he lists as one of his idols.
Fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka, who was projected to be Federer’s doubles partner in Rio, said while it’s a tough loss for the tour, the news is likely tougher on Federer.
“I think everybody, we’re all really sad, but I think more difficult, it’s probably for him. You know, he’s going to be out of competition, he had a tough year already. I just wish him to be ready and fit for next season. For sure we’re going to miss him on the tour, the players, the tournaments, but especially the fans also. He’s so great for tennis, so we all hope that he can come back strong next year.”
Wawrinka said there was no Swiss doubles replacement so far for the Olympics. "It’s a tough announcement for me and sad for him and for everybody."
American John Isner, who is competing in Toronto this week tweeted at Federer, “Get well soon” along with a pair of goat emojis.
Federer withdrew from the Toronto tournament last week, though at the time didn’t elaborate on his reasons why, saying simply he just needed more time following Wimbledon.