Tennis

Federer stuns Halle officials

2011-06-07 14:04
Roger Federer (File)

Halle - French Open finalist Roger Federer's late withdrawal from Halle's ATP event has angered the tournament director, who insists the Swiss let him down at the eleventh hour.

World number-three Federer traditionally uses Halle's grass-court tournament to prepare for Wimbledon and has a permanent contract to play at the west German event.

The publicity campaign for this year's event included Federer's image.

However, with the action already underway, the tournament suffered a huge blow late Monday when the top seed pulled out because he did not want to risk aggravating his delicate groin ahead of Wimbledon later this month.

"I am very disappointed as it's one of my absolute favourite tournaments, but my body, especially my groin, needs a rest," said Federer in a statement.

But tournament director Ralph Weber is furious the Swiss had not informed him of the groin problem sooner.

In the first-round, the 29-year-old six-time Wimbledon champion had been scheduled to face Australia's former world number one Lleyton Hewitt in a much anticipated rematch of last year's final.

"For me this is a personal disappointment that I cannot describe at the moment. I am stunned," said Weber.

"Our plans for the past year have been nearly exclusively with Roger appearing.

"And he never gave us any indication that he had health problems.

"I clearly expressed my disappointment to his management.

"We expect that this lifetime contract will be fulfilled in person - and not just a declaration of intent."

Weber said he will now meet with Federer personally at Wimbledon to discuss the matter and with Halle set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012, Weber is looking at recruiting stars Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for next year.

"We are already planning for our 20th anniversary and we want to offer something special," said Weber.

"We have already had contact with the management of Rafael Nadal and Djokovic and we know that both don't have a contract with Queens, so we are definitely working on getting them back to Halle.

"The two have been here when they were young, and it might be unlikely to get both - but we are determined to do our best."

Federer's place in the Halle draw will now go to lucky loser Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

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