Roger Federer hurts back during practice in Madrid, sets sight on Italian Open

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Mar 24, 2016; Key Biscayne, FL, USA; Roger Federer speaks at a press conference on day three of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Federer has pulled out of the 2016 Madrid Masters after hurting his back during one of his practice sessions. Federer made the announcement during a press conference on Monday.

The 17-time grand slam champion said he would be focusing on getting ready for the Italian Open in Rome, which kicks off on May 8. According to Federer, he arrived in the Spanish capital in good condition. Unfortunately, he had a back issue during practice on Saturday. He said that he was supposed to have more practice sessions but decided not to pursue anymore.

“I don’t want to take more chances, as I know I’m not going to be fully ready,” Federer said ahead of his opening second-round match as quoted by the official website of men’s tennis. “I would rather play it safe and rest now and get ready for Rome.”

Federer had not won an Italian Open crown. He was a runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2015, losing to the World No. 1 Serb in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. Federer also had a runner-up finish at the Italian Open in 2003 (lost to Felix Mantilla) and in 2006 and 2013 (lost to seven-time champion Rafael Nadal).

The sensational Swiss had now pulled out of several tournaments this season. He recently withdrew from Miami Open with a stomach virus.

Read more: Roger Federer hits the court in his bid to win a fourth Madrid Open crown

Meanwhile, top seeds Novak Djokovic, defending champion Andy Murray, and World No. 5 Rafael Nadal are looking to have a good run in Madrid heading into the second grand slam tournament of the season at the 2016 Roland Garros.

Djokovic, the 2011 champion, returns in the tournament after two years. He pulled of the 2014 edition due to a right arm injury. In 2015, Djokovic has withdrawn from the Association of Tennis Professionals’ Masters event. This season, the Serb arrived in Madrid with a 28-2 record. He will begin his campaign against Nicolas Almagro or Borna Coric.

Murray, on the other hand, is hoping to defend his title while Nadal is looking to continue his winning streak after coming off from winning two straight titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The Spanish tennis star has the most number of wins and most final appearances at the Mutua Madrid Open.

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