Playing only three matches in the past 15 months, Roger Federer came to Paris eager to build his form ahead of the grass season. The 2009 Roland Garros winner had no big expectations ahead of the event, and he still scored two excellent victories to find himself in the third round, as the oldest player in the Open era who achieved that in Paris!
Federer took down Denis Istomin in the opening match in just over an hour and a half, playing well on both serve and return and scoring his first Major victory in almost 500 days! Facing Marin Cilic for the 11th time, Federer scored the tenth victory over the Croat, beating him 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes.
Speaking about the match, Roger said that he played some great shots in the tie break, which proved to be the crucial one, happy with how he performed as he didn't expect to keep a high level for two and a half hours at this stage of his comeback.
Federer lost serve thrice from eight chances offered to Cilic and erased the deficit with five return games that carried him over the top. Roger fired 47 winners and 27 unforced errors and tamed his strokes nicely to forge the victory in the shortest range up to four strokes.
Federer had a lengthy argument with the chair umpire in set number two over a time violation, losing that set and battling hard to prevail in the third and bring the encounter home soon after that to advance into the last 32.
The Swiss made a strong start, defended both break points in the opening set and stole Marin's serve in games three and five to open a 4-1 gap. Roger closed the opener with a powerful serve at 5-2 after 30 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash.
Roger Federer is through to the third round at Roland Garros for the 16th time.
Marin erased all four break chances in the second set to gain a boost, finding the rhythm on the return and stealing Roger's serve in games two and eight for 6-2.
The third set went down to the wire after Cilic fended off six out of seven break chances, pulling the break back in game six and staying in touch with Roger until the tie break. Federer earned a mini-break in the fourth point and served well to defend the lead nicely before landing an ace at 6-4 to move two sets to one in front.
From 1-1 in set number four, the Swiss shifted into a higher gear and kept the pressure on the other side of the net, breaking Marin in game four and sealing the deal with another return game at 5-2. "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.