Novak Djokovic: 'Roger Federer's withdrawal came as a surprise, but only he knows...'

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Novak Djokovic: 'Roger Federer's withdrawal came as a surprise, but only he knows...'

After skipping 13 months due to a knee injury that required two surgeries, Roger Federer returned to the court in March in Doha. After beating Daniel Evans in a tight encounter, Roger wasted a match point against Nikoloz Basilahvili and stayed away for another two months.

Then, deciding to embrace the clay swing ahead of his beloved grass, Roger entered Geneva and Roland Garros to shape form and try to 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 for one of his quickest Roland Garros victories. 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.

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, moving over the top with a late break in the fourth set in his biggest test since the last year's Australian Open.

Stressing his knee like never before in the past 15 months, Federer decided to skip the fourth-round clash against Matteo Berrettini and take some rest ahead of Halle. Asked about Roger, Novak Djokovic said that the withdrawal came as a surprise, although he understands that Roger knows his 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.

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer Roland Garros