Roger Federer has withdrawn from the French Open after he was given a long challenge by Dominik Koepfer in their third-round clash before he was eventually able to close out a four-set win, 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5, late on Saturday night.
When Federer did finally close out the win after three tie-breakers and three hours and 35 minutes, he cut a relieved and weary figure at close to 1am local time in Paris.
The Swiss earlier spoke openly about considering pulling out of the tournament due to the stress and strain on his body from the gruelling late match - and now it has been confirmed.
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The Roland Garros tournament organisers first announced Federer's news, quoting him on Sunday afternoon that he had withdrawn from the fourth round of the tournament.
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"After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of the French Open today," Federer said in the statement.
"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.
"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."
Tournament Director, Guy Forget added: "The Roland-Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night.
"We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season."
Ninth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini has subsequently received a walkover into the quarter-finals, where he awaits either world number one Novak Djokovic or 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti.
Federer: My love of the game helped me through
Speaking in a press conference after the very late finish to his third-round win, Federer hinted at the decision that was to follow.
"I mean, every match here or at Geneva I have to reassess the situation after the match and see how the knee feels the next morning," Federer said.
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"So from that standpoint for me it's always like that. There is no difference after a match like this, but maybe even more so after a match like this that has been long.
"Like I explained before, I have not been through three-and-a-half-hour battles in practice either.
We go through these matches, we analyse them highly and look on what's next. We will do the same here on Sunday, because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not.
"Is it not too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest?"
'How on earth?' - Federer with round-the-net stunner to win wild point
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Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph.
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