The 20-time Major champion Roger Federer had experienced the most extended break of his career since the last year's Australian Open, staying away from the court for 13 months. Struggling with a knee injury and undergoing two surgeries in February and May last year, Federer returned to the court this March and played five tournaments before taking another break following the third surgery.
Roger defeated Daniel Evans in Doha in three tight sets before squandering a match point versus Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarters. Two months later, Federer hit the court again at home in Geneva, returning to clay for the first time in two years and suffering a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 loss to Pablo Andujar in the second round despite a 4-2 advantage in the decider.
At Roland Garros, Federer scored three victories at the same event for the first time since the last year's Australian Open, giving his best to find the form ahead of his beloved grass season. Alexander Zverev praised his idol after advancing into the last 32 in Paris, saying that Federer always finds a way to bring his best tennis and celebrating the veteran's movement after a long break and two surgeries.
Kicking off his 80th Major event, Roger defeated Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 33 minutes. The Swiss delivered sharp and aggressive strokes, losing 13 points behind the initial shot and securing five breaks that carried him over the top in one of his quickest Roland Garros victories.
His next rival was Marin Cilic, and Roger beat the Croat 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes.
Alexander Zverev praised Roger Federer at Roland Garros.
Federer earned the tenth victory over Cilic from 11 encounters and the fifth in a row, playing on a high level in sets one and four and prevailing in the third to cross the finish line.
The Swiss suffered got broken from eight chances offered to Marin and seized five break opportunities that propelled him into the next round. Roger hit 47 winners and 27 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and leaving the opponent behind in the shortest range up to four strokes to forge the victory and remain in contention.
"Roger Federer always finds a way. You could not expect him to play that well, but it's not a surprise. What surprises me a bit is how well he moves after two knee surgeries. That's incredible. Looks like he was never away," Alexander Zverev said.