Roger Federer beat Dominik Koepfer 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 7-5 to advance to the fourth round of French Open 2021. The match ended in three hours and 35 minutes of erratic and fighting tennis in front of an empty stadium. Both players played some unpleasant tennis but fought hard. Meanwhile, the Swiss star has cited that Wimbledon is his main goal. He sees Roland Garros as a “stepping stone” to the grass-court Grand Slam.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner hasn’t taken part in a major tournament since January 2020. Federer had undergone two knee surgeries. Therefore, he is undecided whether to play in the next round match.
Federer said, “These are all stepping stones to something that is really important to me. We go through these matches, we analyse them highly and look on what’s next. Because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not. Is it too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing?
“I don’t have the week in between here and (the grass-court tournament in) Halle like normal. (We need) to see what’s best now if you count back from Wimbledon.”
In the first set, which lasted 64 minutes, Federer came out on top despite the German’s resilience. The 59th ranked Koepfer went behind 2-0 at the start of the second set.
But he fought his way back to level at 4-4 after a three-game run of breaks. Into another tie-break, Koepfer won the set courtesy of some unforced errors from Federer.
Koepfer struggled with his first serve in the third set. The Swiss maestro took full advantage of it with his aggressive returns to get back on serve. The third set tie-break of the night was a toe-to-toe affair. But in the end, the 2009 champion clinched the set thanks to an unforced error by his opponent.
The 27-year-old German threatened to take the game to another tie-break in the fourth set. But Federer somehow managed to claim the decisive break at 6-5 and serve his way through to the last 16.
Federer, who will turn 40, missed most of the season because of injury. He said “To go out tonight, sure, it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of premiers for me.
“Playing against Koepfer for the first night session here in Paris, first time no fans ever in my career. That was definitely very unique in many ways, and I’m happy I found a way. Also especially emotionally, how do you handle losing that second set?
“I was really picturing a lot of people on a Saturday night. Maybe checking in on the game and watching some tennis. So, in many ways, I was also playing for them and trying to let that inspire me. I clearly hadn’t practiced for three hours 35.
“I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was I think a huge step forward for the team. I didn’t expect to be able to win three matches here.”
Federer’s next assignment is against Mateo Berretini on Monday.