The 39-year-old Roger Federer stopped the clock again on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday night, prevailing over Dominik Koepfer 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 after three hours and 35 minutes! Thus, the veteran advanced to the last 16 in Paris for the 15th time, becoming the oldest player in the fourth round at a Major since Ken Rosewall in 1978.
It was Roger's sixth match of the season and after that severe knee injury that had kept him away from the court for 13 months, passing a massive test and thinking about the next steps. 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 will sit with his team and decide about his next move, mentioning an option to withdraw ahead of the Matteo Berrettini clash and preserve energy for Halle and Wimbledon.
Federer is throwing everything on the grass season, and he can't afford wrong moves ahead of it, especially after not having a week off between Halle and Wimbledon, which is usually the case.
Roger Federer scored a marathon win at Roland Garros over Dominik Koepfer.
"After the second set, I didn't know if I still had enough energy in reserve.
I had to calm down a bit and be more relaxed. But I know that there are bound to be 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 game I play gives me information for the rest of the season.
I didn't expect to win three matches here. 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. Clearly, I haven't 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 a lot of 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 don't 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 don't 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.