Tagged in: withdrawn

Roger Federer to miss 2021 Australian Open; planning 2021 return

Roger Federer is withdrawing from the Australian Open while he keeps preparing to return to action after two operations on his right knee, the tournament confirmed on Sunday.

Tony Godsick — Federer’s longtime representative and CEO of their management company, TEAM8 — stated he is working on putting together a 2021 tennis calendar for the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who plans to get back on tour soon after the year’s first major tennis tournament.

“Roger has decided not to play the 2021 Australian Open. He has made strong progress in the last couple of months with his knee and his fitness. However, after consultation with his team, he decided that the best decision for him in the long run is to return to competitive tennis after the Australian Open,” Godsick said in a statement released to the AP.

“I will start discussions this coming week for tournaments that begin in late February and then start to build a schedule for the rest of the year,” Godsick said.

The start of the Australian Open’s main draw was delayed by three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic and is now programmed to begin on Feb. 8 at Melbourne Park.

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Federer, 39, has spent more weeks atop the ATP rankings than anyone else but is No. 5 after his hiatus. He is training in his usual offseason home of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The choice to delay his comeback came with input from coaches Severin Luthi and Ivan Ljubicic and fitness coach Pierre Paganini.

“We wish him all the best as he prepares for his comeback later in the year,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement confirming that Federer pulled out of the field, “and look forward to seeing him in Melbourne in 2022.”

Federer hasn’t played a tournament match since late January at the 2020 Australian Open, where he was clearly injured while losing in straight sets to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Soon after, Federer played in an exhibition charity event with Rafael Nadal in front of a record tennis crowd of more than 50,000 people at a soccer stadium in Cape Town, South Africa.

Just weeks later, Federer announced he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and would be sidelined for at least four months. He later had a second procedure on that knee and wound up missing the rest of the pandemic-altered season.

One measure of Federer’s popularity: Despite appearing in only six matches in 2020, he recently was voted the winner of the ATP Tour fans’ favorite award for the 18th consecutive time.

Until this knee issue, Federer had his career interrupted only once by an operation — on his left knee in 2016. He sat out the second half of that season, including the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the US Open, but was back at his best when he resumed playing, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017.

He won the Australian Open again the following year for his sixth trophy there, to go along with eight from Wimbledon, five from the US Open and one from the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam.

While Federer was sidelined this year, Nadal equaled his men’s record for most major championships by collecting his 20th at Roland Garros in October. Federer posted a congratulatory message on social media to Nadal that day, saying he hopes “20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us.” Djokovic’s title in Australia this year moved him closer to Federer and Nadal with a total of 17.

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Dustin Johnson out of CJ Cup due to covid

No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from this week’s CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas after testing positive for COVID-19.

Johnson, according to the PGA Tour, was experiencing symptoms, prompting him to take a test. Players are tested prior to travel each week and on site as part of the PGA Tour’s coronavirus testing protocols.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” stated Johnson, a 23-time PGA Tour winner who took the Tour Championship and thus the FedEx Cup title last month.

“I was really looking forward to competing this week but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible. I have already had a few calls with the tour’s medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me.”

According to David Winkle, Johnson’s agent at Hambric Sports, the golfer took an on-site test Sunday that was negative. But he started feeling symptoms Sunday night, stayed away from the course Monday and didn’t feel better Tuesday, so he took a test that came back positive.

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Because the symptoms started Sunday, it is possible that Johnson could return at next week’s Zozo Championship as long as his symptoms have subsided.

He would not be able to practice on site prior to the tournament.

Johnson has not played since he finished tied for sixth at the U.S. Open last month. It is also possible he could play at the Houston Open the week before the Masters, which is Nov. 12-15.

Johnson has been one of the most consistent players in the game of late, tying for sixth in his last start at the U.S. Open, winning the Tour Championship, finishing second at the BMW Championship, winning the Northern Trust and tying for second at the PGA Championship.

He will be among the favorites at the Masters next month. Johnson becomes the second player in straight weeks to test positive for COVID-19.

Tony Finau withdrew from last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open due to a positive test. He also withdrew from the CJ Cup field and has been substituted  by Robby Shelton.

The PGA Tour has had a successful return to competition following a 13-week shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson is the 15th player who the tour has announced as having tested positive. Prior to Finau, two players tested positive at the U.S. Open, but there had been a six-week stretch of no positive cases before that.

J.T. Poston was the first alternate and replaces Johnson in the 78-player field.

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Brooks Koepka’s caddie tests positive

Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the Travelers Championship after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The pro golfer, 30, told Golfweek that Elliott tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka said. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life if they have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. The only way this tour can continue is if guys to do this sort of thing and be proactive about it.”

Koepka, Elliott, and Koepka’s coach Claude Harmon III all were originally tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after playing a practice round with Graeme McDowell, whose caddie, Ken Comboy, had tested positive.

“We all got tested Monday—myself, Claude and Ricky. We all came back negative,” Koepka said. “We had no symptoms. Nothing.”

However, Elliott’s additional test on Wednesday came out positive, which led Koepka to immediately withdraw from the Travelers Championship. “Ricky has my full support in this. I feel bad for him,” Koepka said. “We have got to do everything we can to not spread it. We have to protect the field. That’s the reason we have these rules.”

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Koepka stated he and his team have been on strict lockdown during the first three events back on tour, staying together with a chef in rented homes and leaving only to go to the golf course or get tested.

The only occasion on which someone left from isolation was on Monday, June 15, when Elliott joined McDowell and Comboy at the funeral of a close friend in Orlando.

McDowell, 40, told Golfweek that Comboy now thinks he may have been exposed to the virus during a commercial flight he took two days earlier on June 13 from Dallas to Orlando after the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Koepka said that he and his girlfriend Jena Sims, as well as his chef, are all being tested for coronavirus Wednesday at the golf course. Based on the results, he will decide whether to return home to Jupiter, Florida, or quarantine in Connecticut.

The PGA Tour has since put in place a health and safety plan that forces any player who tests positive to be “immediately isolated” for a minimum of 10 days “after the positive test and no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.”

The tour said that 369 players, caddies and essential personnel were all tested on-site before the RBC Heritage initiated, and none tested positive.

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