After some thought, Roger Federer decided to compete on clay this spring, entering Geneva and Roland Garros ahead of his beloved grass season. Since last year's Australian Open, Federer has played just two tournaments, struggled with a knee injury and underwent surgeries in February and May last year.
Returning to action in Doha two months ago, Federer defeated Daniel Evans before blowing a match point against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarterfinals. Taking two more months off, the Swiss hit clay for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday, competing at home in Geneva and losing to Pablo Andujar in the second round.
Roger forged a 4-2 lead in the deciding set after raising his level from set number two, losing ground after that and suffering a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 loss. Looking for more games heading into Halle and Wimbledon, Roger will play Roland Garros in ten days, returning to Paris for the first time in two years when he was a semi-finalist.
Tournament director Guy Forget is delighted to see Roger in the draw, stating that the Swiss would have won five or six more Roland Garros trophies without Rafael Nadal in the tournament. Federer lost all six Roland Garros encounters to Nadal, winning just four sets and never forcing a decider against the clay king.
Rafa beat him in the semifinals of 2005 in his debut and in three consecutive finals in the following years. Setting his eyes on the only Major he still had to conquer, Federer made it to Paris in 2009, beating Robin Soderling in the title clash to complete a Career Grand Slam.
Two years ago, Federer returned to Roland Garros after not playing it for three years, playing well and reaching the semi-final where Nadal defeated him in straight sets. "Roger Federer competing at Roland Garros seems logical to me.
Roig opens up on Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal's alternate coach Francisco Roig believes that the Spaniard needs to iron out a few flaws in his game before the French Open. Roig also showered rich praise on Dominic Thiem, and claimed that the Austrian would be as big a threat in Paris as Novak Djokovic if he manages to regain his form.
"Looking ahead to Roland Garros, I think a little more mobility is important," Roig said. "At the level of aerobic capacity, he has been very good, holding out in games, but I think we have room for improvement when moving.
It can still be a more dynamic point, both forward and in lateral mobility. And the serve must also be worked on, although it has gotten better and better," he added. "In fact, against Djokovic he was already pretty good."