Competing in Paris for the first time since 2015, Roger Federer was the Roland Garros semi-finalist two years ago. The Swiss had to skip the clay Major last year following that severe knee injury, and he is back in action this week, scoring back-to-back wins for the first time since January 2020!
Federer ousted Denis Istomin and Marin Cilic in the opening rounds to find himself in the last 32 in Paris for the 16th time, writing the record books as the oldest player to achieve that in the Open era at 39 years and nine months!
Discussing his run so far, Federer said that he didn't expect this after such a long break. Still, the Swiss was realistic in predicting that he can't beat Novak Djokovic at the moment and reach a potential semi-final, still shaping his form for the grass season.
Becoming the first player with 80 appearances at Majors 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. Playing sharp and aggressive tennis, the Swiss lost 13 points behind the initial shot and kept the pressure on the other side with a solid return display.
Federer pushed Istomin to the limits and converted five out of 13 break opportunities to control the scoreboard and race over the finish line for one of his quickest Roland Garros wins. The 2009 champion fired 48 winners and 20 unforced errors and looked great on the court in only his fourth match in 2021.
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. Federer earned the tenth victory over Cilic from 11 encounters and the fifth in a row, all at notable tournaments.
Roger Federer believes that he can't beat Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.
The Swiss played better behind the second serve and suffered three breaks from eight chances offered to Marin, converting five opportunities on the return that sent him through.
Roger landed 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 in that segment and reach the last 32. Federer will now face Dominik Koepfer, and if both he and Novak Djokovic win the next two matches, they will battle in the quarter-final.
"I still believe there's no way I'm going to go really deep and beat Novak Djokovic. The first round didn't surprise me per se, but I wasn't expecting this in the second. Can I keep it up, and how will the body react? We'll see.
The mind is getting stronger; I can feel it. I have more clarity and more confidence growing in me. I played on a high level for two and a half hours, and I didn't expect that at this stage of my return. I had some excellent moments against Marin, especially in the tie break. Also, there's some energy left in my reserve, which is also important," Roger Federer said.