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Federer to play France's Roland Garros for the first time since 2015

Jewel SAMAD / AFP | Switzerland's Roger Federer leaves the court after his defeat against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men's singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2019.

Swiss great Roger Federer announced Sunday he will return to the clay for another crack at the French Open this year for the first time since 2015, after a stunning fourth-round loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas that ended his Australian Open title defence.

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The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who won at Roland Garros in 2009, hasn't played on the clay of Roland Garros since his quarter-final loss in 2015. He missed the tournament in 2016 after an injury and skipped the clay season the last two years.

Speaking at a news conference after his defeat to Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas, Federer, the defending champion, refused to say it was the beginning of the end for a man who has dominated the sport for so long and said he felt like he wanted to play on clay again.

"I'm at a moment where I think it would be nice to do it," the 37-year-old Federer said. "I can say I have missed it, I did the right thing skipping it last year, the year before as well, and the year before that I was injured. So I felt I wanted to do it again."

Just one of his 20 Grand Slam titles has been on clay - in 2009 when he beat Robin Soderling in the final. He lost the three previous French Open finals to Rafael Nadal.

Beaten at Australian Open

The Swiss champion was knocked out by the Greek player 17 years his junior in the last 16 of the Australian Open 6-7 (11-13), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The long-haired Tsitsipas, seeded 14, has been touted as a future Grand Slam champion and Federer had nothing but praise, saying he saw similarities to himself."He has a one-handed backhand and I used to have long hair, too," said the world number three.

“He has more of a continental grip than players nowadays. That's a bit more my way than, let's say, Rafa's way”, he added. "I see him definitely being high up in the game for a long time. That was a good night for him tonight."

Federer conceded he had "massive regrets" about his Sunday loss and said he didn't win because he struggled to convert his 12 break points, making none of them count.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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