Federer backs out of Cincinnati

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It didn’t take long for a battered Roger Federer to make the call.

After suffering a 6-3, 6-4 loss to 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in the Coupe Rogers final Sunday, he needed less than 24 hours to decide that attempting another Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati was a bad idea.

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And so, he’s out.

Lucky loser Thomas Fabbiano of Italy will replace him, and get a bye in the first round.

Federer is the second top seed to pull out after the draw, after Kei Nishikori’s right wrist troubled him enough in practice to lead him to withdraw.

And it means that next Monday, Rafael Nadal will be the new world No. 1 on the ATP Tour.

Not vintage, still a finalist

Federer scuffled all week long in Montreal. He never really moved that well. And he dropped a lot of sweat. But he still managed to reach the final.

On Sunday, though, he visibly appeared to get worse, perhaps an issue with his back. Early in the second set, the velocity on Federer’s serve dropped. And his motion even looked compromised.

By the end of the match, he wasn’t even bending over in his typical serve return position.

He was standing nearly straight up, and barely moving.

During the week, Federer had made a point of mentioning that he felt healthy. But he didn’t really downplay it during his post-match press conference.

“You know, felt all right all week. Had a bit of muscle pain, aches and pains here and there, just because it’s back on the match courts, on the hard courts. After vacation and practice, it’s always a bit of a shock for the body,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see now how I feel in the next couple of days.”

It took less than one day.

And in withdrawing, Federer ‘fessed up that it was, indeed, the back.

“I am very sorry to pull out of the Western and Southern Open as I always enjoy playing. Cincinnati has some of the best fans in the world and I am sorry I will miss them,” Federer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I tweaked my back in Montreal and I need to rest this week.”

Next up for Federer will be the US Open – back permitting.

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