Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, who is the fifth-ranked player in the world, has withdrawn from the 2021 Australian Open, tournament officials confirmed Sunday.
The six-time Australian Open champion will miss the event as he continues to recover from two operations on his right knee.
"In the end Roger ran out of time to get himself ready for the rigors of a Grand Slam and he's very disappointed he won't be coming to Melbourne in 2021," Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement. "The Australian Open has always held a special place in his heart -- remember it was Roger who first called the AO the 'happy slam.'
"We wish him all the best as he prepares for his comeback later in the year and look forward to seeing him in Melbourne in 2022."
The start of the Australian Open's main draw was pushed back three weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now scheduled to start Feb. 8 at Melbourne Park.
The 39-year-old Federer hasn't played in a tournament match since late January at the 2020 Australian Open. Soon after, he played in an exhibition charity event with Rafael Nadal before announcing that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Federer later had a second procedure on the same knee and missed the remainder of the pandemic-altered season.
With Federer sidelined, Nadal tied his men's record for most major championships by winning his 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in October.