Roger Federer pulled out of Sunday’s final at the O2 Arena with a back injury, handing Novak Djokovic his third consecutive World Tour Finals title.
Federer came out on court half an hour before the match was due to start and apologised to the crowd after revealing he was unable to play.
“I’m sorry I’m here in a tracksuit,” said Federer, 33. “Unfortunately I’m not match fit to play the match tonight. I hope you understand. Clearly I wish it wasn’t so. I didn’t want it to end this way.
“I did everything I could. I took pain-killers, had rest until the very end, but I just cannot compete at this level with Novak. At my age it would have been a risk.”
Federer, who is due to play for Switzerland in next weekend’s Davis Cup final against France, aggravated his back during the third-set tie-breaker of his semi-final win against Stan Wawrinka. The world No.2, who struggled with back problems in 2013, saved four match points before beating Wawrinka 4-6 7-5 7-6(6) in two hours and 48 minutes.
He did not finish his media duties after the win until 1am and reportedly did not leave his central London hotel until 3.30pm on Sunday, with the final due to start at 6pm, missing his scheduled afternoon practice session.
“It’s a very disappointing end to the season,” Federer added in his press conference. “I was playing so well here, had a great season so far. I was feeling great until yesterday’s tie-breaker. I felt all of a sudden the back was feeling funny.
“I tried to have treatment on it, medication on it, just tried to turn around as quick as possible really, but didn’t really feel that much of an improvement overnight.