'I hope that Roger Federer can compete as long as possible', says ATP star

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'I hope that Roger Federer can compete as long as possible', says ATP star

The Miami Open, the first Masters 1000 of the season after the postponement of Indian Wells, had to deal with a large number of forfeits for both men and women. Roger Federer announced early on that he would not defend the title he won two years ago at Hard Rock Stadium, while the back injury that has afflicted him since the beginning of 2021 has forced Rafael Nadal to resign as well.

It should be noted that the 34-year-old Spaniard has not played in the Florida tournament since 2017, when he surrendered in the final to his eternal rival Federer. Definitely more surprising was the message spread by ATP number 1 Novak Djokovic, who had been confirmed to lead the seeding.

The Serbian veteran, who solved the abdominal problem suffered during the Australian Open, has chosen to spend more time with his family and to carefully prepare the season on clay (he is already training in Monte Carlo).

In an interview with the sports newspaper 'AS', Roberto Bautista Agut focused on the decision of the Big 3 to miss the Miami Open.

Bautista Agut on the Big 3

"There are a lot of expectations on him when Roger Federer plays," Roberto Bautista Agut said.

"It's very good for tennis to have him back." Bautista Agut then added how Roger Federer, along with his 'Big 3' rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, had greatly enhanced the popularity of the sport.

"(Hope) that he can compete as long as possible because Roger, Rafa and Novak make tennis more popular and important," the Spaniard continued. "They are global icons." Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem followed Roger Federer in withdrawing from Miami, leaving the Masters 1000 tournament without its four biggest male stars.

But when asked to weigh in on the withdrawals of the Big 3 and Thiem from the hardcourt event, Roberto Bautista Agut insisted that their absence was good for him and the rest of the field. "The Big 3 plus Thiem will not play in Miami, which is good for us players who instead entered the draw,"Bautista Agut quipped.

"Even if tennis is a very balanced sport and anyone can beat you." John Isner, a former Top 10 player, claimed that the absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic is an opportunity for others. He even mentioned the importance of the tournament from the view of the spectators.

“In a sense, it’s a good litmus test as to how people will perceive this event without those three guys,” Isner said. “Because, of course, they won’t be playing forever”.