World number one Novak Djokovic has joined Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in deciding not to play at the Miami Open, which begins next week.

The Masters 1000 tournament has not been its usual big draw for the leading men this year, and Djokovic becomes the latest high-profile withdrawal.

The 33-year-old Serbian announced he would enjoy some family time rather than travel to the United States, citing the need for balance in his life as coronavirus restrictions affect globe-trotting sports stars.

Miami's total prize fund is said to have been cut from $16.7million in 2019, the last time it was held, to $6.68m this year.

That drastic reduction, reported by the Tennis Majors website, may or may not have been a partial factor in the withdrawals that have dented the top-tier quality in the men's side of the tournament.

The women's event looks like being a full-strength field, while new world number two Daniil Medvedev is set to be the men's top seed, providing he makes the trip.

Djokovic wrote on Twitter: "Dear fans, I'm very sorry to announce that this year I won't travel to Miami to compete.

"I decided to use this precious time at home to stay with my family. With all restrictions, I need to find balance in my time on tour and at home. I look forward to coming back next year!"

Nadal has been bothered by a back problem and cited it earlier this week as the reason for his withdrawal, as he looks to recover full fitness in time for the clay-court season and a crack at winning a 14th French Open title.

The Spaniard's great rival Federer, a fellow 20-time grand slam winner, has only just returned from a year away from the tour after knee surgery, and beat Dan Evans in his first match back at the Qatar Open before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Federer then elected not to play in Dubai and will not be in Miami, where he is the men's reigning champion, having taken the 2019 title. The 2020 tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Roger Federer was "really happy" with how he performed on his return to the ATP Tour but will not play the Dubai Tennis Championships.

After 14 months out following knee surgery, Federer was back in action at the Qatar Open on Wednesday, defeating friend and practice partner Dan Evans in three sets in the last 16.

But Nikoloz Basilashvili, Federer's next opponent, proved a step too far in the quarter-finals on Thursday as the 39-year-old Swiss superstar went down 3-6 6-1 7-5.

Federer breezed through the opener and recovered from a tough second set to forge a match point in the decider, but Basilashvili stuck with his "idol" and earned a first career win against the 20-time grand slam champion.

The result would not put a dampener on Federer's week, however.

"I'm already over it," Federer said. "I mean I would have loved to play tomorrow - don't get me wrong, you know - but at the same time I'm also happy to get a rest.

"I'm happy how I played today. I'm happy how I did yesterday. I'm happy I was back on the Tour. I'm pleased I came here to Doha.

"So it's a really, really positive return for me.

"I'm actually happy that I was able to play back-to-back three-set matches against top players. That's an important step forward for me. This is a stepping stone."

But Federer announced later on Thursday he had made the decision to return to training, putting on hold plans for a second tournament of the season.

He had been set to join a number of other big names in Dubai, although Spanish great Rafael Nadal has rejected a wildcard.

Federer wrote on his social media pages: "It's been great to be back on the @atptour, loved every minute playing in Doha once again. A big thank you to the best and loyal team that helped me get here.

"I've decided it's best to go back to training and as a result, I've decided to withdraw from Dubai next week."

Federer is an eight-time Dubai champion, most recently in 2019 when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Roger Federer's return to the ATP Tour lasted just two matches at the Qatar Open as he was beaten in the last eight by the brilliant Nikoloz Basilashvili.

A "tired" Roger Federer was "incredibly happy" to mark his long-awaited return with a battling victory over Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open.

Swiss legend Federer had been out of action for 14 months after undergoing knee surgery, but he was back in business with a 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5 win over Briton Evans.

The 20-time grand slam champion had spent a lot of time practicing with Evans in recent weeks before making his comeback and they spent another two hours and 24 minutes on court in a tight tussle on Wednesday.

Federer was delighted to be back after such a lengthy absence and the 39-year-old's next test will come against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals in Doha.

He said: "I was tired, I was more focused on being tired than winning the points. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out swinging. Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I thought I played a really good match. I'm incredibly happy about my performance.

"It was a pleasure to share the court with Dan and always nice to finish off with a backhand down the line on match point. The important think is how I feel tomorrow and the next day and so forth for the next six months.

"It's been a long and tough road for me. I enjoyed it though, it's been a huge challenge in my tennis career."

Top seed Dominic Thiem earlier needed three sets to defeat wildcard Aslan Karatsev 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2, while the in-form Andrey Rublev was given a walkover after Richard Gasquet withdrew due to a leg injury.

Denis Shapovalov beat Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian encounter, while Roberto Bautista Agut was among the other winners.

Karen Khachanov reached the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald, while Jannik Sinner ousted Hugo Gaston in straight sets.

Cameron Norrie, Matthew Ebden and Egor Gerasimov were also victorious in Marseille.

Roger Federer displayed flashes of his sparkling best as the returned to action with superb 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5 victory over Dan Evans at the Qatar Open

The 39-year-old was playing his first competitive match in 14 months, having undergone knee surgery since his last appearance at the 2020 Australian Open.

Evans and Federer have practiced together over recent weeks and combined to produce a high-quality affair in Doha, with the veteran showing phenomenal staying power after so long away to book a quarter-final meeting with Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The only break point of the opening set came in the ninth game, with Federer holding and coming through two deuces.

World number 28 Evans boomed down a pair of aces and held to love after that minor setback and reeled off four consecutive points to lead 4-2 in the breaker.

Federer saved one set point and converted his third with a wonderful backhand passing shot.

A battle that eventually lasted two hours and 26 minutes appeared unlikely as Federer sought to press home his superiority, Evans coming into the net to repel a break point in the opening game of set two.

But the Briton was the first man to make a dent on the other's serve, with Federer unusually ragged as he pulled a forehand then a backhand wide from deuce to go 1-3 behind.

The Swiss could not capitalise on a break-back point in the next game and, having been taken to deuce in all previous games in the set, Evans produced back-to-back aces and held to love to square the match.

Federer's first-serve percentage fell from an imperious 83 to 58 between sets one and two and he looked tired when slipping to 0-30 at 2-2 in the decider before recovering to hold.

Evans, who also went the distance against Jeremy Chardy on Sunday, was similarly robust under pressure – a serve-volley and his formidable backhand slice seeing him through a match-point game at 4-5 – but he could not keep the insatiable Federer at bay as a majestic backhand down the line settled the argument.

Dan Evans is putting friendship aside after earning a blockbuster showdown against returning superstar Roger Federer at the Qatar Open.

Federer has not played competitively since his semi-final exit at the 2020 Australian Open – the 20-time grand slam champion having undergone knee surgery last year.

But the 39-year-old Swiss great will make his long-awaited comeback against Evans in Doha on Wednesday.

Evans – who has been practicing with Federer – outlasted Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 1-6 6-2 in the round of 32 at the ATP 250 tournament.

"We obviously practised for [the] past two weeks [in Dubai], and I thought he was playing pretty well," Evans said. "We played plenty of sets. It was competitive. But it's all very different when you get on the match court.

"It will be a lot different tomorrow. It's going to be at night, as well, so a little slower. So we'll see how the match goes."

Second seed Federer – a record three-time Qatar Open champion – watched from the stands on Tuesday and Evans added: "He obviously has seen a lot of my game the past few weeks, so I guess I would say it was more out of boredom.

"He's probably [was] waiting for his practice [more] than scouting out what's happening on the court. Let's put it down to that."

Elsewhere, sixth seed David Goffin topped Filip Krajinovic 6-4 6-4 en route to the last 16 but three-time slam champion Stan Wawrinka was stunned 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 by qualifier Lloyd Harris.

Marton Fucsovics, Vasek Pospisil and Malek Jaziri also advanced through to the next round.

At the Open 13 Province, three-time champion and French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his first ATP Tour victory since 2019.

Tsonga – hampered by injuries, including left knee surgery –rallied from the brink to see off Feliciano Lopez 3-6 6-4 7-5 in Marseille on Tuesday.

"This is probably one of the best victories of my career, because it was tough for me to play tennis. I had so much pain for so many months," Tsonga said in an on-court interview. "Today, I won one match. That was one of my goals for these few weeks… I’m happy like a kid."

Next up is fourth-seeded countryman Ugo Humbert, who upstaged sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-4.

Meanwhile, Federico Coria and Federico Delbonis were among the victors at the Chile Open.

Dominic Thiem is relishing Roger Federer's return to action, with the duo taking part in this week's Qatar Open.

Federer has spent the last 13 months out, having elected to take 2020 off – following last year's Australian Open – to undergo two knee operations.

The 40-year-old will compete in Doha this week, returning to play in an event where he has enjoyed plenty of success down the years, winning the tournament three times.

Last year's US Open champion Thiem, who has moved above Federer in the world rankings during the Swiss' absence, will also be in action in Qatar, and is thrilled to see the 20-time grand slam winner make his comeback.

"We are rivals, and of course we want to beat each other in the tournament, [but] I still really love to watch him play tennis," said top seed Thiem, who was speaking to Laureus Sport after his nomination for Breakthrough of the Year.

"[He] looks so nice, the way he plays, the way he approaches the game of tennis.

"On the one hand, I'm also a big fan of his still, and that's why I really love that he's back and that I can watch him again. That's what pretty much everybody is thinking, and I hope that he's coming back strong, as well."

Federer and Thiem have met seven times, with the Austrian holding the advantage, with five wins to his name against the former world number one.

Thiem, a semi-finalist in Doha in 2018, has not played since he lost to Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open in mid-February, and the world number four is hoping to make a fast start when he takes on Aslan Karatsev in round two.

"The [Doha] draw is unbelievably strong, so [you] never know what's [going to] happen, but I just try to have a good start and to be there on a good level from the very first point," said Thiem.

"It's going to be my first tournament and [my] first match [in almost] a month, since [a] pretty devastating loss at the Australian Open.

"I needed some time to digest everything, to analyse everything [and] to settle down a little bit. Now it's time to focus on new things. The tournament in Doha is the first chance to play better again, to get good results, to get confidence and to forget a pretty tough start of the season."

Former world number one Roger Federer said he has no real expectations for his comeback event at the Qatar Open.

Federer has not played competitively since his semi-final exit at the 2020 Australian Open – the 20-time grand slam champion having undergone knee surgery last year.

The 39-year-old Swiss superstar opted not to travel to Melbourne for this year's Australian Open, but he is set to make his comeback in Doha.

Federer, who holds the record for most Qatar Open titles with three – will start his campaign against either Jeremy Chardy or Daniel Evans at the ATP 250 tournament.

"It's been a long year in some ways, especially rehabbing, being on crutches once and then for a second time, and finally I'm back on a tennis court again, working out, playing sets, playing points," Federer said.

"It's a true pleasure, it's a privilege actually after all this time. I didn't expect it to go as long as it did, we are where we are, I'm so excited to be back on a match court, you know, in a few days here.

"I'm really curious to find out how it's going to go, obviously there's an amazing amount of questions marks surrounding my comeback for me personally.

"I don't know what to expect, I know that expectations from myself are extremely low, and I'm just very happy that I'm playing a tournament again, regardless of the outcome of this event."

On whether he had doubts over returning, Federer added: "You always do have doubts, you know, when you have surgery, there are always days when you feel better and worse. But I think overall I am a very positive person, I have a great team around myself, my family, I am also very distracted, and you know, the idea was to be fully fit again, one day. For life or for tennis.

"So equally important to me, actually life is a little bit more important to me, I wanna go skiing and play basketball, I wanna go playing ice hockey, play tennis in the future, with my children or exhibition matches, you name it, so it's definitely worth it to go through all that pain you know. But the goal was, this is not I'm going to go out, I'm not happy with my knee, we're going to fix it, and then I'm going to come back.

"For me there was no other story to it, and rehab wasn't as hard as maybe people make it seem, even though people around me are very impressed how I go about it, but for me it's only but normal to be really, really professional about it."

Novak Djokovic made history after breaking Roger Federer's record for most weeks as world number one on the ATP Tour.

Djokovic surpassed Federer after beginning his 311th week as the number one player in the men's rankings on Monday.

Serbian star Djokovic reclaimed the top ranking from fellow superstar Rafael Nadal in February 2020 and finished as year-ending number one for the sixth time – tying the mark set by Pete Sampras.

Djokovic, who first topped the men's rankings in July 2011, went on to celebrate a record-extending ninth Australian Open title at Melbourne Park in February.

With Federer turning 40 in August and Nadal a year older, the 33-year-old Djokovic has time on his side in pursuit of more history.

Djokovic has won 18 grand slams, two adrift of Federer – who is set to make his long-awaited ATP comeback in Qatar this week – and Nadal.

"I think it's an ultimate challenge to be honest, of course, winning a slam and being in history, the longest-ever number one," Djokovic said in Melbourne last month.

"You can have a great grand slam, a great tournament, a great couple of months, or even a great season but to do it over and over again, to be actually contender for historic number one, you need to play well and have a consistency from January to November, ever single year.

"I've been fortunate to do that and put myself in a position to make history in that regard. I'm very, very proud of that and privileged to be in that position.

"It's also a relief because it has been definitely my main goal, other than winning slams and now that I'll be managing to achieve it, I'll focus myself more on slams and adapt my calendar and schedule because when you're going for number one, you have to play all year and you have to play all the biggest tournaments.

"You can't allow someone else to earn more points than you. It's like a constant pressure, I think, and expectations that you have to deal with. It's definitely fulfilling to achieve that."

Federer now sits sixth in the rankings, having not played competitively since the 2020 Australian Open.

Nadal remains second, though he is set to be leapfrogged by Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the next rankings release on March 15.

Russian Medvedev will be the first player, other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray, ranked in the top two since July 2005.

Daniil Medvedev will climb to number two in the ATP rankings later this month, with his small step signalling that big change is afoot in the men's game.

The leading two positions have been occupied by a combination of the 'Big Four' ever since Rafael Nadal climbed above Lleyton Hewitt to take second place on the ladder on July 25, 2005.

Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all had spells at number one in the years since then, and no other player has had a look-in on those leading two positions.

Within days, however, that is about to change, as the younger generation of players gains a first foothold in the top two.

The ATP, which runs the men's game, said on Saturday that 25-year-old Medvedev is certain to nudge up one place from his current position of world number three when the rankings, are published on March 15.

The Russian is currently on 9,735 points, 115 points behind Nadal, and he has a first-round bye at the Open 13 Marseille next week.

The ATP, tweeted: "With the release of next week's @atptour draws, @DaniilMedwed is confirmed to become World No. 2 in @FedEx ATP Rankings on 15 March. Medvedev will be the 1st player in the Top 2 since 25 July 2005 other than the Big 4 of @DjokerNole, @RafaelNadal, @rogerfederer and @andy_murray."

Medvedev, who won the ATP World Tour Finals title in November and reached the Australian Open final last month, missed an early chance this week to move ahead of Nadal when he lost in the first round of the Rotterdam Open.

Roger Federer said he is "very excited" ahead of his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar Open.

Federer has not played competitively since his semi-final exit at the 2020 Australian Open – the 20-time grand slam champion having undergone knee surgery last year.

The 39-year-old Swiss superstar opted not to travel to Melbourne for this year's Australian Open, but he is set to make his comeback in Doha next week.

Before departing for Qatar, Federer said on Friday: "It's been a year since my last travel to any event and I'm very excited.

"This is the moment where I could maybe thank all the people involved who made this possible.

"It's been a long and hard road. I know I'm not at the finish line yet, but it's good."

Federer holds the record for most Qatar Open titles with three, with his most recent success at the ATP 250 event coming in 2011.

The 103-time tour-level champion added: "I feel like I'm in a good place, I've been practising very well.

"Hope you guys also are going to tune in to watch it and I hope I see you again very soon. Take care everybody."

Federer and Spanish great Rafael Nadal have both won a record 20 major titles.

Veteran Federer is on the comeback trail and planning to play tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March, building up to Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, key goals for what might prove to be his final season on tour.

Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich believes winning a ninth SW19 crown would be the perfect moment for Federer to bow out.

Stich told Stats Perform News recently: "It is clear that at some point he will stop. Many would have thought that already five years ago.

"We have no influence on that. I would wish for him to win Wimbledon and say after the final: 'You know what, I had a sick time, I'll stop.'

"There couldn't be anything better and that would give so much to the sport."

Roger Federer would have the perfect moment to bow out of tennis if he lands a ninth Wimbledon title this year, according to former SW19 hero Michael Stich.

Swiss great Federer has not played on tour for over a year after undergoing knee surgery twice, and Rafael Nadal has matched his tally of grand slam titles during that time.

By winning at the delayed French Open last year, Nadal joined Federer on a record 20 slam titles, with Novak Djokovic just two behind that pair after his Australian Open triumph last week.

At the age of 39, Federer is on the comeback trail and planning to play tournaments in Doha and Dubai in March, building up to Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, key goals for what might prove to be his final season on tour.

"It is clear that at some point he will stop," Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion, told Stats Perform News.

"Many would have thought that already five years ago. We have no influence on that. I would wish for him to win Wimbledon and say after the final: 'You know what, I had a sick time, I'll stop.'

"There couldn't be anything better and that would give so much to the sport."

Stich believes it is "questionable" whether Federer will be capable of success on that scale, but he sees Wimbledon as his greatest opportunity.

"You should never write him off because he is a player who has a gifted set of skills that help him to still play tennis that good at his age," Stich said.

"He may have the problem that the younger generation no longer has this huge respect for him because he was out for a year. The mental side plays a big role there.

"But especially at Wimbledon he is certainly still a candidate for the title, because there he has this mental strength, because there he has the greatest joy.

"The nice thing is that everyone is looking forward to his comeback and wants to see what happens. He has nothing to lose. He doesn't have to prove anything to himself, he doesn't have to prove anything to the fans out there. He's really doing it because he thinks he can still win titles."

With Nadal and Djokovic winning the last two majors, the prospect of Dominic Thiem's US Open win last September triggering a sea change in the men's game has fallen away.

According to Stich, the likes of Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev cannot just wait for the old guard to make way and must instead find a way to disrupt their dominance.

"As a spectator and fan, I naturally wish that the passing of the torch would still happen during the active time of the 'Big Three'," Stich said.

"It's the big goal of all young players that they would like to beat a Roger Federer, a Novak Djokovic, and a Rafael Nadal in a grand slam final. An Andy Murray and a Juan Martin del Potro did it. The only two in what felt like 20 years, and Stan Wawrinka, who is not to be forgotten with three titles.

"It's up to the young generation now and they are no longer 19. They are all 22, 23, 26. Dominic Thiem achieved it at the US Open. One would of course wish that they actively shape this transition, but that is looking into the future."

Stich says he has "no idea when that will happen", but he believes there will be another great generation that emerges, just as tennis moved on from the golden era of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, and latterly the days when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi dominated.

"We have a generation in which three players shaped this period extremely," Stich said. "Now is a chance for the others to step into the spotlight. The next generation will follow in their footsteps. I'm not worried about that."

World number one Novak Djokovic is in favour of technology replacing linespeople across the ATP Tour amid the absence of judges at the Australian Open.

This year's Australian Open is being held without line judges as a response to coronavirus restrictions at Melbourne Park, where "Hawk-Eye Live" technology is being used on every court. 

It is the first grand slam to replace all linespeople with technology as the tournament seeks to limit the number of people on court amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Djokovic was sensationally disqualified in the fourth round of last year's US Open for inadvertently hitting a ball at a line judge during his clash with Pablo Carreno Busta in New York.

Asked about the situation at the Australian Open, defending champion and eight-time winner Djokovic told reporters: "I think back [at the] US Open last year, someone asked me whether I would support the idea of introducing this kind of line call technology at every tournament.

"Obviously providing that the tournament is able to afford financially that kind of investment, because obviously it is an investment.

"I said that I support that, because I feel, yes, I understand that there is a tradition and history and the way we kind of got used to the line umpires being there, and I think it's nice that there is a lot of people and also volunteers with these line umpires that love tennis and love to have an opportunity to be out on the court and be close to the players and be part of a great event.

"But I think when you draw a line that generally I actually am in favour of technology. I think it's proven to be very accurate in this particular instance.  I don't see a reason why we need the line umpires, to be honest, if we have technology like this. I would of course keep the ball kids, but line calls I'm in favour of this technology."

Djokovic was speaking after beginning his quest for a ninth Australian Open title with a 6-3 6-1 6-2 win over Jeremy Chardy on Monday.

The 17-time grand slam champion is trying to close the gap on 20-time major winners Roger Federer - who is absent from this year's event - and Rafael Nadal.

"I respect all of my opponents' records. I think especially Roger and Rafa, what they have achieved over the years. They are legends of our sport, and I admire them a lot," Djokovic said. "They have positively affected my game and my growth, my development and all my success. Wouldn't be what it is if these two guys were not there.

"I have had tremendous rivalries with these two guys and we still keep on going. But I don't want any of their success, if you know what I mean. I'm not jealous of their success or anything like that. I try to build my own authentic career and my own success, and I stick to that."

Djokovic added: "I am always motivated and inspired to achieve big goals and break records. I would lie if I say that's not, you know, something that I'm thinking about or that my attention is not going that way.

"I have been very transparent about the fact that one of the biggest goals is to try to reach the number one of all time weeks' record, and I'm getting closer and closer to that one. That's a kind of a lifetime achievement for me. 

"Grand slams, as well. Of course the Masters events, I think the 1000 events over the years I have managed to be very consistent and win a lot of titles there. Those are the biggest events that we have on the four other than grand slams.  The head-to-head records with top guys as well, to name a few. I try to be a good student of the game. 

"I'm just very fortunate to be in this situation and position that I'm in at the moment, so I try to keep on going and obviously setting up new goals for myself, because I feel like other than passion and love that I have for the game and the biggest reason why I still play it is exactly that pure emotion that I have of enjoyment when I'm there and excitement.

"As a professional tennis player, I need to have goals. Over the last 15 years, everything that I have managed to achieve, I don't settle for anything less but the top of the men's game and the biggest trophies.  That's something I always aim for. I work towards that.  And yeah, I'm still lucky to be where I am. Let's see what the future holds."

Roger Federer is aiming to make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar Open, while Rafael Nadal is contending with a back injury with less than a week until the Australian Open.

Swiss maestro Federer has not played since losing in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park to Novak Djokovic in 2020 having undergone knee surgery last year.

The 20-time grand slam champion opted not to play in Australia this year but is aiming to return in Doha in March.

"I want to celebrate great victories again. And for that I am ready to go the long, hard road," Federer, a three-time champion at the tournament, said in an interview with SRF.

"I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament so that I wasn't fully in focus and where the stress is also a little less."

Federer said it "hurts" to miss out in Australia but still has lofty ambitions at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open in 2021, while saying he will attempt to play on clay this year.

"I'll try to play on clay again. The whole thing, of course, with regards to Halle, Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open," he added.

Federer's on-court rival Nadal matched the Swiss for most grand slam singles titles won by a male player after winning the French Open last year.

But his chances of going one better may be hindered by a back issue that forced the Spanish great to sit out his country's ATP Cup opener against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday.

"Hi all, we have decided with #TeamSpain and my team, to not play today the first match of the @ATPCup here in #Melbourne since I have a stiff low back. Hopefully I'll be better for Thursday," Nadal posted on Twitter.

Roger Federer decided to miss the Australian Open because wife Mirka opposed having to spend a full fortnight in quarantine, a leading official has claimed.

It was widely assumed Federer's reason for skipping the upcoming grand slam related to the knee surgery he underwent last season.

He had hinted as much, and agent Tony Godsick referred to the knee rehabilitation when announcing in December that the Swiss great would not travel to Melbourne.

But Andre Sa, the head of player liaison at Tennis Australia, says Federer pulled out when it became apparent his wife and children would be holed up in their hotel accommodation for two weeks.

The players travelling to Australia must all quarantine to avoid any possible spread of COVID-19, but they are allocated five hours per day in which they can leave their rooms to train and practise with specified hitting partners.

Sa, a former top-20 doubles player, told Band Sports in his native Brazil that he discussed with father-of-four Federer the practicalities before the 20-time grand slam winner reached his decision.

"The main reason was the quarantine," said Sa. "I talked to him a month ago and he had two options. He could come with the whole family and do the quarantine.

"The problem is that Mirka and her children couldn't leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room. The exception is only for players.

"He could go out, train and come back, but the family couldn't. Mirka did not approve the idea.

"The other option would be for him to come alone. Only there would be at least five weeks away from family and children. And then he said, 'Dude, 39, four kids, 20 grand slams. I'm no longer at the stage to be away from my family for five weeks.'"

Former world number one Federer has not played a tournament since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year.

This year's edition of the grand slam has been delayed by three weeks to a February 8 start, due to factors tied into the pandemic.

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