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May 2, 2016

Roger Federer

Madrid, Spain

THE MODERATOR: Unfortunately Roger has had to pull out. Mutua Madrid Open with a bad back. He's going to say a few things, what went wrong the last couple of days, and then we'll open up to a few questions.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sorry Manolo. Number one, sorry to the tournament for coming and leaving without playing. I arrived and I was okay, and then I practiced on Saturday and hurt my back a little bit in practice and then stopped early. Supposed to practice for two hours; had to stop after an hour 15.

Then, well, I was scheduled to practice yesterday and today but just don't feel like I can practice. At this point I don't want to take more chances as I know I'm not going to be fully ready for Wednesday. I would rather play it safe and rest up now and get ready for Rome.

So that's the schedule here now. I'm very disappointed, to say the least. I was hoping to play. I changed my schedule around and practiced well in Switzerland before coming here. This is not really what I wanted to do, come here and do a press conference about pulling out.

It's been a tough year, so I hope it gets better from here.

Q. Is it the same kind of back injury you had the past couple of years and before the Davis Cup final, or is it something completely different?
ROGER FEDERER: No, the Davis Cup, before the Davis Cup finals it was the most extreme I probably ever had. This is normal back things I've had in the past, which I guess is good because I know how to handle it. I know how long it can take. Sometimes it can vary by a few days here or there.

That's why I'm pulling out today and not waiting until tomorrow. I felt like yesterday already it was probably not going to make it for Wednesday. I wanted to wait for an extra day and do treatment and all that.

So it's the back stuff I kind of know, and, yeah, I'm okay with it. At least I know what it is.

Q. Are you worried about maybe your matches on clay are not enough? Thinking about Roland Garros, for example. Maybe you're not going to have the best preparation for the match, for the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, depends now how Rome goes, but nevertheless, regardless, I practiced really much and a lot before Monaco. I was ten days in Monaco before the tournament and played three matches there.

From that standpoint I've been playing a lot of practice on clay. I've been putting a lot of hours in. Now also the last two weeks I was back on the clay even though it was cold in Switzerland. Maybe that didn't help my back. I'm not sure, but I practiced there for many days as well.

From that standpoint I'm ready and okay. I don't need always a lot, lot of matches to feel 100% ready. Before the Australian Open also we only play a handful of matches and you got to be ready. With my experience and the way I feel about big tournaments, if I have matches, great. If I don't, I trust in my game, in my mind that I'll be fine regardless of the preparation, to be honest.

Q. You've had bad luck with injuries this year and you've had a career where you haven't had many problems with them before. How are you dealing with this on an emotional level? Even in Brisbane you were sick and a then a bunch of withdrawals. How is that affecting your morale? It's a pretty new thing for you.
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit. Yeah, I guess so. Then again, if you look at the pullouts this year, many I couldn't even do something about it. If it's clear that you can't play and you know it's the best for your career and for the future of the season, doesn't feel like such a big letdown.

Like if I start the tournament and have to pull out before the finals in London or make it to the semis or quarters and then you have to pull out, those, to me, hurt much more than pulling out before the tournament even started.

I mean, I am frustrated. I'm a little sad of course not to be playing here. At the same time, I'm still upbeat that the back issue is going to go away. I would rather have it being the back than the knee. So from that standpoint I see it as more positive than negative, to be honest.

Of course in a nutshell it's not good that I'm not playing here. I still have time. The season is long. There are a lot of big highlights coming this season.

I wish I could play here, but I just can't. I've got to deal with it. I've pulled out on many occasions, but always with a reason. When you have a reason, people understand. Tournament directors understand; you guys hopefully understand; and then it goes away easier, to be honest.

Q. Did you plan to play Rome irrespective of your result here, or were you waiting to he see what happened in Madrid first?
ROGER FEDERER: I was always going to wait for Madrid to see how I was going to react, the body was going to react to the matches. Now that I don't have any matches, clearly I always need goals that you work forward to. The goal now is to play Rome and hopefully arrive there somewhat early so I have a good preparation, and, you know, that I can play hopefully a good tournament.

Still, again, let's see how my back is going to be and my preparation. If I can't play Rome it's not the end of the world. The goal clearly now is to play there and do well, like I did last year.

Q. French Open has always been the toughest slam for you relatively. With the lack of matches you've had on clay and the injuries here, do you measure your expectations at all for this part of the season coming up and just hope maybe that you'll be able to get back to 100% by grass or anything like that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the goal has always been that I'm at a 100% when the French comes around. Hopefully. If not, then latest Wimbledon. That's always been the case ever since I stepped into the operation room, to be honest.

This is not the knee, it's the back, so it's different. Clearly it's not a help. Nevertheless, I've been able to practice as much as I've wanted to. I came back on tour quicker than I thought I would. So in terms of schedule, I guess I still am still somewhat on par.

Then only, how do you say, time will tell if I'll be fine at the French. I do believe I have chances there. The problem in the past has been more Rafa than the clay itself. If you take Rafa out of the equation I would've had an amazing clay court career. I still with him I've had a great clay court career.

It's still the surface where I did grow up. Still a surface I feel comfortable on. I've spent maybe most time of my life on that surface.

I probably can enter the French Open or clay court season with maybe a little bit less expectations because you guys expect less from me. I'm not the overwhelming favorite in those events, and sometimes that can be helpful, too. I still put pressure on myself wanting to go far and deep and play well.

Same thing this year. Maybe something can happen at the French. If not, still a huge summer ahead.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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