The Swiss, who would be chasing a record 17th grand slam title in Australia, was confident, however, that he would be fit for the tournament in Melbourne, which starts on 16 January. “I hurt my back in the second round match [on Wednesday],” Federer said.
“I don’t think it’s the right time to risk anything right now. For Australia, I’m optimistic. It’s not good, but it isn’t crazy bad. Without playing and with the right treatment, I will get through it in the next few days. I have a long journey to Australia, but hopefully mid-next week I should be 100 per cent again,” added the world No 3.
Federer started the Qatar tournament in imperious form, dropping just nine games in his opening two matches, but he struggled in Thursday’s quarter-final against Andreas Seppi, edging through 6-3 5-7 6-4.
He revealed he hurt his back early in his second round clash with Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja. “Then I wasn’t able to serve properly any more. I had the same thing yesterday,” said Federer, 30. “I was really playing, you know, with the handbrake on, and I was just trying to manage the situation. [When] you’re trying to protect the back, you might tweak something else. It’s very dangerous. I’ve already played two matches in pain now, and it just gets a bit too much for the body.”
Federer had been due to play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals yesterday. Tsonga will now meet either top seed Rafael Nadal or compatriot Gael Monfils in the final. “It’s really sad,” Tsonga said. “It was good for me to play against him [Federer], to see how my level is and [how] I feel at the beginning of the season. I need some time on the court to feel better for next week.”