Dubai - Ailing top-seed Roger Federer has pulled out of the $2m ATP Dubai Open due to a lung infection, officials said here Sunday.
"He has got a lung infection," said ATP circuit official Stephen Duckett. "He saw a doctor and he was advised not to play for a fortnight."
According to the ATP's website Federer, who picked up the infection last week, will return in the ATP World Tour Masters at Indian Wells in March.
Federer, a four time Dubai champion, was due to appear here for his first tournament since beating Andy Murray to win his fourth Australian Open at the start of the month.
That was the Swiss ace's 16th Grand Slam and it secured him the top ranking for a 268th week.
The victory in Melbourne ensured that the 28-year-old kicked off the new season firmly ensconced at the top after winning Wimbledon and the French Open last year.
The world number one was out for revenge in his second home city here in Dubai where play opens Monday, both by deposing Novak Djokovic as champion and by getting the better of Murray, who beat him in his last appearance here in 2008.
These two 22-year-olds present the most immediate threats to Federer's world number one ranking with Rafael Nadal slipping to fourth in the latest ATP rankings.
Federer was due to play Julien Benneteau of France in the first round here with a potential date with Murray in the semi-finals.
Czech Jan Hernych, who fell in the final round of qualifying, becomes a lucky loser in the main draw while Spaniard Tommy Robredo takes Federer's place at the top of the draw and will now play Benneteau on Monday.
Federer won the title here in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 and was runner-up in 2006.