Roger Federer posted his 2013 schedule on his official website and there’s one significant tournament missing: the Sony Open in Miami, an ATP Masters 1000 event.
Beginning next year, Federer will enjoy complete exemption from the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 player commitment, meaning he can choose to skip as many mandatory Masters tournaments as he wants. The exemption stems from Rule 1.08 in the ATP rulebook, which reduces a player’s Masters commitment by one tournament for reaching each of the following milestones:
1) Has played 600 career matches.
2) Has 12 years of service.
3) Is 31 years of age.
Once a player reaches all three milestones, he has complete exemption from the Masters commitments. That’s where Federer finds himself next year, and why he can skip those events without penalty.
On his website, Federer lists his 14-event 2013 schedule. Of course all the Grand Slams are there, but Federer will not play the hard-court Miami event and, as of now, will not play his hometown event in Basel. Here’s the Swiss champion’s complete schedule:
Australian Open, Melbourne
ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells
Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid
Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome
Roland Garros, Paris
Gerry Weber Open, Halle
Rogers Cup, Montreal
Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati
U.S. Open, New York
Shanghai Rolex Masters, Shanghai
BNP Masters , Paris
While his decision to skip Basel is understandable given recent reports of a personal dispute with the tournament director, he still has plenty of time to make up his mind about that event as the year (and negotiations) progresses. (There have already been reports that he’ll reach an agreement in time to play Basel next year.)
So the only real surprise is Federer’s decision to skip Miami. From a practical point of view it makes sense, as Federer will play a fairly heavy spring schedule, with the Australian Open, Davis Cup (potentially), Rotterdam, Dubai and then Indian Wells. Skipping Miami would give him a six-week break until his clay season begins in Madrid. And given his split with IMG this year, he has no vested interest in supporting the IMG-backed tournament. Federer also chose to skip the Abu Dhabi exhibition in December, another IMG-organized event, for the first time since its inception in 2009.
But it leaves an interesting potential dynamic between Indian Wells and Miami, the two biggest North American spring tournaments. Indian Wells has long suffered from the Williams sisters’ blanket refusal to play after an alleged racial incident in 2001, while Miami has been able to boast a full field for both the men and women. Now the tournament could suffer the absence of Federer, the biggest draw in the sport, at a time when the tournament is trying desperately to outdo the Larry Ellison-backed Indian Wells.