Former champion Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Thursday, citing fitness issues, as his record run of appearing at 65 consecutive grand slam tournaments came to an end.
The 34-year-old world number three's appearance at Roland Garros had been in doubt after he missed the Madrid Open with back problems and suffered an early defeat at the Italian Open in the build-up to the clay court major he won in 2009.
The last time the 17-times grand slam champion was absent from one of the sport's four majors was at the 1999 U.S. Open.
"I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year's French Open," father of four Federer said in a message posted on Facebook.
"I am still not 100 percent and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready. This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career."
Federer's withdrawal will have a significant impact on the draw as nine-times champion Rafael Nadal, ranked five in the world, will now move to fourth seed while defending champion Stan Wawrinka is bumped up to three.
Spaniard Nadal could have faced world number one Novak Djokovic or second seed Andy Murray, as early as the quarter-finals. That scenario has now been avoided.
Federer, who for much of his career has been injury-free, needed a left knee operation after the Australian Open this year, saying afterwards he had torn his meniscus while running a bath for his twin daughters.
Federer, who has been troubled by back problems over the past few years, said he was determined to recover full fitness and prepare for Wimbledon.
"I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season," said the Swiss, who owns seven Wimbledon titles.
"I am sorry for my fans in Paris but I very much look forward to returning to Roland Garros in 2017."
ROGER FEDERER THROUGH THE YEARS:
Roger Federer through the years
Injured Roger Federer to miss French Open
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 2: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns to Carlos Moya of Spain to qualify for the second round of the Open 13 Tennis tournament on February 2, 1999 in Marseille, France. Federer won 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3. (Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)
22 Feb 2000: Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand during the AXA Cup 2000 at the London Arena in Docklands, London. (Photo by Clive Brunskill /Allsport)
(GERMANY OUT) Australian Open 2001 in Melbourne (Photo by Claus Bergmann/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Roger Federer of Switzerland holds up the Wimbledon trophy after defeating Mark Philippoussis of Australia in their Men's Final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships 06 July, 2003 in Wimbledon, south London. Federer won 7-6, 6-2, 7-6. (Photo by Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA: Swiss world number one tennis player Roger Federer jubilates after beating Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in their match at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, 15 November 2005. Federer won the match 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4). (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
CUDDALORE, INDIA: Swiss tennis player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer interacts with children at a shelter for people affected by the December 2004 tsunami, in Cuddalore, in India's southeastern state of Tamil Nadu, 22 December 2006. Over 200,000 people lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami which hit the Indian Ocean coastline, 8,000 of them in Tamil Nadu. The UNICEF has been working on relief and recovery in 8 countries since the tsunami struck, building shelters but also steering programmes in health and nutrition, drinking water, education and child protection. (Photo by Strdel/AFP/Getty Images)
Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts during his men's final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain at the US Open tennis tournament on September 8, 2008 at the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City. Federer won the first two sets of the US Open final 6-2 and 7-5 over Murray as the Swiss second seed bids for his 13th Grand Slam title and fifth straight US Open crown. (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Roger Federer of Switzerland poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in the players locker room after winning the men's final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day fourteen of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after winning his Gentlemen's Singles final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Professional tennis player Roger Federer attends the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf Astoria on August 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)