Federer pulls out of Miami Open with stomach virus

Federer has been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopic surgery Feb. 3 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. (Chris Young/CP)

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery has been delayed by a stomach virus.

Federer was scheduled to play Friday for the first time in nearly two months at the Miami Open, but he withdrew shortly before the match because of the illness, which he has been battling for several days.

"I feel bad for the tournament and the fans, as I have rarely ever had to withdraw at such short notice," Federer said in a statement. "I have not felt great for a few days, and unfortunately it got worse in the last 24 hours. I was really excited to have my comeback in Miami but am in no condition to play. I tried to warm up this morning, but it was clear that I could not compete."

Federer has been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopic surgery Feb. 3 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. The 2005-06 Key Biscayne champion hasn’t played in the tournament since 2014.

"It's obvious that a tournament with Roger is always better," said Rafael Nadal, who plays his opening match Saturday. "It's good that it's a stomach problem and at the same time it is not the knee, so it's not a big deal. But it's obvious that it's terrible news for the tournament."

Federer's return will now likely be on clay next month at Monte Carlo. He was replaced in the Key Biscayne draw by lucky loser Horacio Zeballos, who faced Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.

In women's play, No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber beat Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-1. Wild card Naomi Osaka upset No. 14 Sara Errani 6-1, 6-3.