Roger Federer's decision to skip the French Open over fitness concerns could benefit him in the long run this season, according to his former coach Paul Annacone.
A back injury has hampered Federer's clay-court season, forcing him to withdraw from the Madrid Open before he was dumped out of the Rome Masters by Dominic Thiem.
Federer also underwent knee surgery in February with a resurgent Rafael Nadal, world number one Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - finding form on the dirt courts - likely to battle it out for the title at Roland Garros.
"This is sad, but it's also smart," Annacone is quoted by the New York Times. "It's going to be a really busy next few months.
"He's wrestled Father Time to a stalemate so far, and I hope he can keep Father Time in check a little while longer. But we all know who's undefeated."
Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget was naturally disappointed to see a star name drop out.
He said: "We wanted to believe that over the weeks he would arrive at Roland Garros in shape and he would show his true face.
"Roger Federer has exceptional longevity. With his game, his technique, his physical preparation, he was able to play 65 grand slam tournaments in a row, which is crazy, almost abnormal!
"I am sorry as a tennis fan and thus a fan of Roger's game, this is actually quite normal what is happening here!
"However, the event will be extraordinary and whoever lifts the cup on the day of the final, will inevitably be a great champion."