Two years ago, Roger Federer went to Wimbledon as one of the title favorites, playing well and advancing into the title clash. In the most thrilling Wimbledon final in history, Roger wasted two match points against Novak Djokovic, losing all three tie breaks to finish runner-up after almost five hours.
Things are looking much different for the Swiss ahead of the next week's Wimbledon campaign, playing only eight matches in the past 17 months and lacking more time on the court. Roger suffered a knee injury at the beginning of the previous season, playing only the Australian Open in 2020 and missing the rest of the year after undergoing two surgeries in February and May.
After a couple of months on the practice court, Federer returned this March in Doha and beat Daniel Evans before wasting a match point versus Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarters. Taking another break, Federer embraced the clay swing in May and squandered a 4-2 advantage in the deciding set against Pablo Andujar at home in Geneva.
Then, heading to Paris, Roger entered his first Major in almost 500 days and scored three victories to regain confidence and show his old skills. The Swiss took down Denis Istomin and Marin Cilic to advance into the third round, where he faced Dominik Koepfer and beat him 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 in three hours and 35 minutes.
Federer won one point more and sealed the deal with a late break in the fourth set to become the oldest player to reach the fourth round at Majors since 1978!
Roger Federer enters Wimbledon with only eight matches in his legs in 2021.
Nothing could separate them throughout the match, and Roger gave his best to emerge at the top on an empty Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The veteran decided to withdraw the following day, stressing his knee too much against the German and not risking anything ahead of Halle and Wimbledon. Seeking the 11th Halle crown, Federer beat Ilya Ivashka in the first match before losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, standing no chance in sets two and three and hoping for a better run at Wimbledon.
The doubles legend Todd Woodbridge believes that Roger should be fine physically and that he only lacks matches ahead of the season's third Major where he won eight titles. "Roger's fitness is fine, but he's lacking match play.
That time away from the game is not easy, and in his lead-in tournament in Halle, he lost to the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. So he would be disappointed not getting more matches under his belt on the grass. The hardest part about Halle was absolutely zero crowds, and that's not good for Roger.
He feeds off that, and I think when he's playing against opponents, they also feel that the crowd goes for him," Todd Woodbridge said.