MIAMI -- One week after announcing he was going to make an early return to the tennis court, Roger Federer withdrew Friday from his opening match at the Miami Open against Juan Martin del Potro with a stomach virus.
Federer has not played a match since falling to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals on Jan. 28. The Swiss star injured his left knee while preparing a bath for his twin daughters the day after the loss. The injury required the first surgery of his career.
"I am very sorry that I have to pull out of the Miami Open with a stomach virus," Federer said in a statement. "I feel bad for the tournament and the fans as I have rarely ever had to withdraw at such short notice. I have not felt great for a few days, and unfortunately it got worse in the last 24 hours. I was really excited to have my comeback in Miami but I am in no condition to play. I tried to warm up this morning, but it was clear that I could not compete."
The Miami Open was not in Federer's original plans when the season started, but he decided to play after a long layoff. This is only the fourth time in his career he's withdrawn from a match.
Longtime rival Rafael Nadal weighed in on Federer's withdrawal later.
"Well, just sorry for him," Nadal said. "Sorry for the tournament, for the fans, for everybody. It's obvious that tournaments with Roger is always better. Is good that it's stomach problem, not the knee, so not a big deal. Obviously, terrible news for the tournament."
Federer is a two-time champion in Miami but has not won the title since 2006.
Lucky loser Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, who replaced Federer in the draw, beat del Potro in straight sets.