Gutted Federer reveals Aussie snub
It's the end of the Fed-era for Sydney sports fans with tennis superstar Roger Federer almost certainly having played his last match in the Harbour City after pulling out of the inaugural ATP Cup.
Twenty years after meeting his wife at the Sydney Olympics, Federer was to have been the major drawcard for 2020's season-opening showpiece from January 3-12. But the 20-time grand slam champion has opted out for family reasons, leaving a massive void.
"It is with great regret that I am withdrawing from the inaugural ATP Cup event," Federer said in a statement.
"When I entered the event last month, it was a really difficult decision because it meant less time at home with the family and a fully intense start to the season.
"After much discussion with both my family and my team about the year ahead, I have decided that the extra two weeks at home will be beneficial for both my family and my tennis."
At 38 and with four children, 10-year-old twin girls and five-year-old twin boys, Federer's reasons for pulling the pin are entirely understandable. Fans and officials around the world should also expect to see less and less of the champion Swiss as he winds down his illustrious career.
But Sydney fans, especially those who have already purchased tickets for the 10 days that the new teams event is being staged at Olympic Park, will be particularly disappointed.
While the six-time Australian Open champion has appeared in Perth's Hopman Cup and the Brisbane International on multiple occasions in recent years, Federer hasn't played in Sydney since a 2011 Davis Cup tie - apart from one exhibition night against Lleyton Hewitt.
His only two appearances at the Sydney International came in 2002, when he won the title, and 2003 when he lost in the first round.
Federer's fondest memories of Sydney remain the 2000 Games when the then-broken-hearted teenager found now-wife Mirka's shoulder to cry on after losing the semi-final to Tommy Haas and the bronze medal play-off to Arnaud Di Pasquale.
He twice missed out on securing a medal, but gained a future wife. Now it seems Sydney has seen the last of Federer the player forever.
The Federer-led Switzerland team had been drawn in Group C alongside Belgium and Great Britain.