Federer withdraws from Tour final as Murray steps in to play exhibition match

It would be fair to say the 17,500 fans who paid upwards of £500 a ticket were not overly impressed.

Federer waves to the disappointed crowd as he pulls out.
Federer waves to the disappointed crowd as he pulls out.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

IN A BIZARRE TURN of events, fans arriving at the 02 Arena in London this evening expecting to see the end of season show-piece final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic instead watched an exhibition match after the former pulled out due to injury.

Half an hour before the finale of the ATP Tour Finals was set to begin, Federer emerged onto court to inform the crowd he was unable to play due to a back injury.

In an attempt to compensate the crowd, who had paid between £150 and £500 for a ticket, event organisers hastily arranged for Andy Murray to play Djokovic in a friendly game before Pat Cash, Tim Henmann and John McEnroe joined the British number one for a doubles match.

However, the ATP said all ticket holders will be contacted within the next 48 hours.

Federer had come through a gruelling semi-final encounter with compatriot Stan Warwinka last night and doubts over his fitness emerged soon after.

“Unfortunately I’m not match fit to play match tonight. Clearly I wish it wasn’t this way. You try all year to be ready for the ATP World Tour Finals and I didn’t want to end this way,” Federer told the crowd.

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“I’m sorry I’m here in a tracksuit. I wish it weren’t so. I tried everything I could last night and today — painkillers, rest — until the very end, but I can’t compete at this level with Novak.

“In a final like this and at my age, it would be too risky. I hope you understand.”

Sunday’s withdrawal was only the third walkover of Federer’s career. It means Djokovic, who ends the year as World number one, lifted the Tour Finals title for the third successive year.

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Ryan Bailey

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