Competing in only the third tournament in the past 15 months, Roger Federer is through to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 15th time in a career. The 39-year-old took down Denis Istomin, Marin Cilic and Dominik Koepfer to remain in contention and gather momentum in his first notable event following the last year's severe knee injury that required two surgeries.
Roger came to Paris with only three encounters in his legs since the end of January last year, hoping to win a match or two and gather momentum ahead of the grass season, where he wants to compete at his best. On Saturday night, the Swiss took down Koepfer 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 after three hours and 35 minutes, battling hard from start to finish and prevailing with a late break in the fourth set to become the oldest player in the fourth round at Majors since Ken Rosewall in 1978!
After a marathon, Roger said that he feels fine, although he didn't know how his knee would react once he wakes up in the morning. The veteran left the door open for a withdrawal ahead of the Matteo Berrettini clash, thinking about the best thing for his game and not wanting to risk anything ahead of Halle and Wimbledon.
Roger Federer scored three wins at one event for the first time in 16 months.
"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.