Roger Federer had to use his years of experience to battle through a tough four-set match against former US Open champion Marin Cilic on Thursday. Federer showed signs of returning back to his previous best in the hard-fought 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory in Paris. Despite the positives, the 20-time Grand Slam champion is skeptical about going deep in this year’s Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and the Swiss are placed in the same half of the French Open draw. There is a possibility that Federer might meet the Serb as early as the quarterfinals.
Prior to the start of the Grand Slam in Paris, Federer felt that he would not win this tournament. After booking a spot in the third round, he said, “I still do believe there’s no way I’m going to go really, really super deep here or go past the Novak section.” However, Federer, who will be playing German lefty Dominik Koepfer next, asserted that confidence is growing within him after the second-round win.
“The first round I didn’t surprise myself per se, but now in the second round, I did,” Federer said. “Now can I keep it up and how will the body react? We’ll see. The mind is getting stronger, I can feel it. I have more clarity, I have more confidence growing in me.”
The 39-year-old was more than pleased with the way he played against the Croatian on Thursday. “I feel like I surprised myself a little bit,” Federer told Tennis Channel. “I didn’t expect myself to play that well or to have the energy left at the end like this and being able to keep on serving so consistently at the end was great.”
After requiring just one hour and 33 minutes to beat qualifier Denis Istomin in the first round, the Swiss maestro was made to work extremely hard in the second round. The eighth seed lost the second set and needed to survive a third-set tie-breaker before running riot in the fourth set to book a third round ticket.
“This is what I need right now. Actually, I think I felt really good on the court,” Federer stated. “For me it will be interesting to see how I will feel tomorrow, because clearly it will feel very different from Istomin, [having] two days off to Cilic, [having] one day off. That will be a good test for me. Overall I’m very happy how I’m feeling and also confident that tomorrow I’ll feel fine somehow.”
The ongoing French Open is only Federer’s third tournament since the 2020 Australian Open because of two right knee surgeries he had last year.