Roger Federer had played 13 matches in 2021 before deciding to undergo the third knee surgery and skip the rest of the season. Roger's most challenging encounter of the year came at Roland Garros when he toppled Dominic Koepfer 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 after three hours and 35 minutes during the night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Roger endured all the obstacles against an inspired rival to become the oldest player in the fourth round in Paris since Ken Rosewall in 1978. It was Roger's sixth match of the season after that severe knee injury that had kept him off the court for 13 months, passing a massive test but not feeling sure what to do next.
Federer won only one point more than Koepfer and secured five breaks to move over the top, including a crucial one at 5-5 in set number four. After the match, Federer said that he was ready for a decider, although it's not normal to stay on the court for over three and a half hours after two knee surgeries.
Thrilled with the result and three victories under his belt in Paris, the 20-time Major champion revealed he would sit with his team and decide about his next move. Roger considered an option to withdraw ahead of the Matteo Berrettini clash and preserve energy for Halle and Wimbledon, which he did in the end.
Roger Federer scored a marathon win at Roland Garros over Dominik Koepfer.
"After the second set, I did not know if I still had enough energy in reserve. I had to calm down a bit and be more relaxed. But I know there are times when you feel less good in a match that can go to five sets.
Today, with my team, we took a big step forward. Every match I play gives me information for the rest of the season. I did not expect to win three matches here in Paris. Playing for three hours and 35 minutes after the operations I had is not normal.
Those who have had these surgeries know what I'm talking about. I have not done the 3:35 workouts during the practice sessions. I pushed as much as I could, as much as was reasonable, but not this much. I think we have much information for the future thanks to this match.
For me, each encounter is a step forward. I'm thinking in terms of the season and the comeback. I need clashes like this one tonight. After each one, we do a very big debrief to find out where we are and decide if I continue to play or if the risk is too significant at this precise moment.
Are we still pushing, or is it the right time to take a break? The schedule has changed, and I do not have the usual week off between Roland Garros and Halle; we have to decide what will be best for Wimbledon. So it's good to have been able to play a game like this and think that I could have also played the fifth set, but I do not know how I'm going to wake up tomorrow; it will be interesting to see.
After each match from Geneva onwards, I review the situation and decide the day after it by looking at how the knee is doing," Roger Federer said.