Roger Federer after winning his 18th grand slam title with a five-set victory against arch-rival Rafael Nadal.

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Federer won the French Open in 2009

Swiss star skipping clay court season to prepare for grass

Won Australian Open in January

CNN  — 

The speculation is over: Roger Federer will not play in this year’s French Open.

The 18-time major champion made the announcement on his website on Monday, a week before the tournament is set to begin.

“I’ve been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month but in order to try and play on the ATP World Tour for many years to come, I feel it’s best to skip the clay court season this year and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons,” the 35-year-old Federer wrote on the site.

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The ATP is the Association of Tennis Professionals.

“The start to the year has been magical for me but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward. Thus, my team and I concluded that playing just one event on clay was not in the best interest of my tennis and physical preparation for the remainder of the season.

“I will miss the French fans, who have always been so supportive and I look forward to seeing them at Roland Garros next year.”

This isn’t the first long absence for Federer. He missed the last six months of the 2016 season with a knee injury.

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Federer, who started off this season by winning the Australian Open, Indian Wells and the Miami Open, has won the French Open once, in 2009.

The withdrawal of Federer further solidifies nine-time champion Rafael Nadal as the favorite to win at Roland Garros. Nadal is undefeated on clay this season, having won the Madrid Open title Sunday.