Much more was expected of Roger Federer upon his return to clay, two years after his last appearance on this surface. The Swiss phenomenon left the scene on his debut at the ATP in Geneva, where he was defeated in three sets by Pablo Andujar in a match characterized by countless ups and downs.
The former world number 1 seemed to have put things right after a horrendous first set, quickly winning the second and flying 4-2 in the decisive set. When it came to giving the final kick, however, the 39-year-old from Basel totally lost his serve and forehand by cashing in on four consecutive games.
For the first time in his long career, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will present himself at Roland Garros with a negative record this season. King Roger pocketed only one win this year against Dan Evans in Doha, despite losses by Nikoloz Basilashvili (also in Qatar) and Andujar in the home tournament.
In an interview reported by 'We Love Tennis', Federer recalled his last experience in Paris in 2019.
Roger Federer on his last appearance at the French Open
"It was a good tournament. I played well," Roger Federer said.
"This match against Rafa was of course completely dead with the wind. I saw everything against him, but it was finally quite funny in these conditions. There are some exchanges that you normally cannot play at all."
Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the match, which was marred by stormy winds throughout. "Afterwards, I was not at all disappointed," the Swiss said. "Sometimes, I even laughed internally on certain points that we played.
I was happy to have played in Paris at the time. At that time, I didn't know if I even wanted to replay Roland Garros in my career." Roger Federer has decided to play Roland Garros this year, but by his own admission that is more of a way to prepare for Wimbledon.
Still in the top 10, it is possible that the Swiss finds himself on Rafael Nadal's side of the draw and meets him again in the quarterfinals this year. With the clay-court season on its last legs, the focus has started to shift towards the grass-court swing, in particular, the Wimbledon Championships 2021.
The organizers of the prestigious Grand Slam event had recently met to decide on the quarantine protocols for the tournament, which will be held at a time when parts of England are still battling surges in COVID-19 infections.
However, amid rumors that the players would be subjected to hard quarantine and stay confined in a bubble during the length of the tournament, it seems like there could be better news in the offing on the spectator front.