Roger Federer came into French Open on the back of an early exit at the Gonet Geneva Open recently. Federer had lost to Pablo Andujar in Geneva, which was only his third tour-level match of the season, following two right knee surgeries last year. With question marks looming over his match sharpness, the Swiss maestro put an end to the speculations, beating Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of Roland Garros. “I just felt overall much clearer, much better,” said Federer after beating Istomin in the opening round.
“I think [I’m] getting used to tournament and match rhythm again, the whole thing – the towels there, the shot clock there and everything that goes with it. I really felt like I didn’t find the rhythm [in Geneva]. I always struggle early on with my returning a little bit on clay. Funny enough, you would think it’s the easier surface to return [on]. I don’t mind the grass-court and hard-court returns, as I’m blocking it more than hitting it.”
Federer, the 2009 Roland Garros champion, also opened up about how he approached his opening round match. “I felt today I really made a bigger effort of going more in swings and not going through [the motions] like in the practice, where you just go point for point for point – let’s play a maximum amount of points. I sometimes have to tell myself, ‘Take a little bit of time, walk to the towel, do something different’. You might think it’s silly, but it’s true.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion spoke about what he expects from himself when he makes a comeback. “For me coming back after many months or over a year of rehab, the light at the end of the tunnel or the measuring stick was always: Can I come back to a good level against good players? I hope Wimbledon is going to be that place. Maybe there’s going to be even something here in Paris. We’ll see.”
“I hope I can stay healthy from now on forward,” said Federer, who plays Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the next round. “I’m quite confident that’s going to stay that way. I’ve also been getting better every month that’s [gone] by, which has been really positive. I didn’t have any setbacks in a year.”