Boris Becker defended Roger Federer’s decision to skip the entire clay court season in 2018 after the Swiss ace came under criticism from a couple of former players turned tournament organizers.

The Madrid Masters owner Ion Tiriac, a former men’s doubles winner at the French Open, criticized Federer after the Swiss decided to skip the clay court season for a second consecutive year.

The 36-year-old made the controversial decision last year in order to remain in peak physical condition for the grass court season, which is his preferred surface. It paid dividends as Federer went on to win titles at the Halle Open and a record breaking eighth Wimbledon Championship.

The 20-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion hinted earlier this season that he could play one or two clay court events, but made the decision to skip all the tournaments on the red dirt after his loss in the second round at the Miami Open in March.

The Madrid Open owner, Tiriac, was not impressed and claimed it was ‘unfair’ that Federer was allowed to skip the entire clay court season, which encompasses some important tournaments — the Monte Carlo Masters, the Madrid Open, the Italian Open and the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros.

Becker agreed with Tiriac about players not being allowed to pick and choose the tournaments they play during the course of the season. But he also feels Federer had earned the right to choose the tournaments he plays owing to his achievements in the last 14 years.

The Swiss maestro is widely considered the greatest to ever play the game and is not considered an equal to the other players on tour owing to his 20 Grand Slam titles and his 308 weeks as the world number one. He became the oldest world number one in February this year, while three of his 20 major titles have come in the last 15 months, a time when it was suggested that Federer was already past his best.

“In principle, Tiriac is right when he says that players are not allowed to choose where to play and where to not,” Becker said about Federer skipping the clay court season, as quoted on Tennis World USA. “But Federer is in another league. He is the best ever. He is an unbelievable tennis player. He did all right, and now that he has chosen to skip the clay-court season should be understood.”

Federer, the current world number two, is confirmed to return to action at the Halle Open which takes place from June 18-25. Last season, he also played at the Stuttgart Open, but is yet to commit to the tournament in Germany which begins a week prior to the Halle Open.

Federer is targeting an unprecedented ninth title at the Wimbledon Championships this year and will use the events in Halle and possibly Stuttgart to prepare for his title assault at SW19.