After skipping 13 months due to a knee injury that required two surgeries last year, Roger Federer returned to the court in March in Doha. The Swiss beat Daniel Evans in a tight encounter before wasting a match point against Nikoloz Basilahvili and taking another break.
Roger entered Geneva and Roland Garros on clay to shape form and get back at his best ahead of Halle and Wimbledon. At 39, Roger played well in Paris to score three victories and advance into the last 16 as the oldest player in the Open era.
Roger kicked off the Parisian campaign with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win over Denis Istomin in an hour and 33 minutes, in his first Major match in almost 500 days! Playing sharp and aggressive tennis, the Swiss lost 13 points behind the initial shot and kept the pressure on the other side to control the scoreboard.
Federer converted five out of 13 break opportunities and raced over the finish line. In the second round, Roger beat his old rival Marin Cilic 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes to reach the last 32. Federer earned the tenth victory over Cilic from 11 encounters and fifth in a row, firing 16 aces and suffering three breaks from eight chances offered to Marin while converting five opportunities on the return.
The Swiss lost a tight third set before bouncing back and sealing the deal in the fourth.
Novak Djokovic shared his thoughts about Roger Federer's withdrawal.
In the third match, Federer had to give his 120% to topple Dominik Koepfer 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 in three hours and 35 minutes in the night session.
The veteran moved over the top with a late break in the fourth set in his biggest test since the last year's Australian Open to enter the last 16. Stressing his knee like never in the past 15 months, Federer decided to skip the fourth-round clash against Matteo Berrettini and take some rest ahead of Halle, which started in the following week.
Asked about Roger's decision, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic said that the withdrawal came as a surprise, although he understands that Roger knows his current physical shape the best. "It was a bit surprising to see Roger's withdrawal, but only he knows how he feels physically.
It's a pity for the event; it's Federer after all, and I believe everyone wanted to watch him for at least one more match. He is well within his rights if he is having troubles physically," Novak Djokovic said.