Following a thrilling loss to Novak Djokovic at the 2011 US Open 2011, Roger Federer was a player to beat in the rest of the season. The Swiss rattled off 17 straight victories to conquer Basel, Paris and the ATP Finals and finish the year on a high note. Roger kicked off the 2012 campaign as the defending champion in Doha, looking good to claim another title and extend his streak. Federer dispatched Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2 in 54 minutes in the opening round, losing nine points on serve and never facing problems in his games. Federer proved too strong for the Russian, winning half of the return points and controlling the scoreboard with four breaks that quickly sent him over the finish line. In the second round, Federer needed just over an hour to dismiss Grega Zemlja 6-2, 6-3. The Swiss repelled both break opportunities given to the opponent and stole the rival’s serve three times to set the quarter-final clash against Andreas Seppi.
Things looked different against the Italian, though, with Roger prevailing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 after playing on a much lower level. Both players created nine break chances, and Roger emerged at the top with an extra break in the decider. The Swiss felt the pain in his back and decided to withdraw before the semi-final clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer has never retired during the match in his career, and this was only the second time he had given a walkover. Four years earlier, Roger missed the quarter-final clash against James Blake in Paris, also with a back injury.
Roger Federer gave second career walkover to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Doha 2012.
“I felt the pain in the last two matches, and I do not think it’s the right thing to risk anything now; it’s the only right decision to make. I have been trying to manage the situation; back spasms happen, and sometimes you can contain them with massage and painkillers. I do not want to drive myself crazy with more painkillers, and I need to do what is right to get better. It’s only the second time I have pulled out from a tournament, and I have never retired during a match. It’s a sad moment for me, the tournament, and the fans, but health comes first. With proper rest and the right treatment, I will get through it in the next couple of days; at least I think so. Of course, I have a long journey in front of me going to Australia, but I hope maybe midweek next week I should be back at 100%. Still, that’s just guessing,” Roger Federer said.