Roger Federer will not make a final decision on whether he will play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo until after Wimbledon.

An Olympic gold medal is the one major honour to have eluded Federer during his decorated singles career.

The 20-time grand slam champion won gold in doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka in 2008 but was beaten by Andy Murray in the singles final in 2012 and pulled out of the tournament in 2016 to recover from a knee injury.

Rafael Nadal will not feature in Tokyo, having decided to skip Wimbledon and the Olympics to help him recuperate after the clay-court season.

Federer has grown significantly more selective over his schedule in the latter stages of his career as he has sought to look after his body.

Asked about his participation at the delayed Games, which begin next month, Federer told a media conference: "It's still my intention to go to the Olympic Games.

"But we will reassess everything after Wimbledon. It is my goal to play as much tournaments as possible. But it really depends on results and how the body is feeling.

"I wish I could tell you more. At the moment things are not as simple as in the past. With age, we have to be more selective, I can't play it all."

Federer starts his campaign for a ninth Wimbledon title when he faces Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday.

The Swiss has won all six of his meetings with Mannarino, including matches at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2018.

Novak Djokovic will start the defence of his Wimbledon title against British wildcard Jack Draper, and Serena Williams takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round.

Djokovic is just one grand slam title away from matching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's record tally of 20 after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year.

The world number one will take on 19-year-old Draper, a quarter-finalist at Queen's Club last week, in his first match at SW19 for two years after the 2020 championships were called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic faces a potential quarter-final against Andrey Rublev, while Federer could come up against second seed Daniil Medvedev in last eight.

 

First up for eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer is an encounter with Adrian Mannarino, while injury-plagued two-time winner Andy Murray will start his home major against the 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, beaten by Djokovic in a thrilling French Open final this month, has been drawn to face American Frances Tiafoe in round one of a tournament that gets under way on Monday.

Simona Halep announced just before the draw was made on Friday that she would not defend her title due to a calf injury.

Williams, runner-up to Halep in the 2019 final, must get past Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round and could face third seed Elina Svitolina at the quarter-final stage.

World number one and top seed Ash Barty takes on Carla Suarez Navarro, who made a grand slam return at Roland Garros after recovering from cancer. Barty could come up against Bianca Andreescu in the last eight.

Petra Kvitova against Sloane Stephens is a standout first-round match, while Coco Gauff's first assignment will be a meeting with 20-year-old Briton Fran Jones.

Roger Federer lost in the opening two rounds at the Halle Open for the first time in his career as his hopes of winning the title for the 11th time were ended by Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Federer beat Ilya Ivashka in his opening match of the grass-court season at a tournament defined by his dominance in Halle.

He came into Wednesday's clash with Auger-Aliassime boasting a 32-0 record in the first two rounds, and that looked set to be preserved after the 20-time grand slam champion won the first set.

But Auger-Aliassime, exactly 19 years Federer's junior, staged a stunning fightback in a contest with the largest age difference of the Swiss' 1,521 career matches.

His remarkable turnaround saw the Canadian claim a 4-6 6-3 6-2 triumph that marked the fourth top-10 win of his career.

It also meant he denied Federer a 70th match win in Halle and his 18th quarter-final in as many appearances at the tournament.

"It's a great victory, it's good for my confidence. It was already a great challenge for me to play a player like Roger, but to beat him, it's a great thing," Auger-Aliassime said. "It makes me really happy. But at the end, it's the quarter-finals in two days. 

"If it was the final, then I'd be really happy… it's another step in the tournament, it's a great match, so hopefully I can keep on going like that.

"In the first set, I didn’t think I could have played much better outside of just missing one forehand in my service game and then he hit two amazing passing shots and I was just like 'Whoa'.

"I understand how good he is and how good he was when he was No. 1 in the world, so it was tough.

"Everything worked well today, to be honest. I think that's what you need to do against Roger. On my part, I served really well. I was able to put in a lot of returns, mix up coming to the net, closing well. I think overall I did a good match."

Marcos Giron is next for Auger-Aliassime after he overcame Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets. There were straight-sets wins for Andrey Rublev over Jordan Thompson and Philipp Kohlschreiber over Corentin Moutet. Rublev will face Kohlschreiber in the last eight.

Wednesday's play at the Queen's Club Championships saw Alex de Minaur win an all-Australian clash with John Millman, while Britons Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper defeated Aslan Karatsev and Alexander Bublik respectively.

Roger Federer returned to action at the Halle Open on Monday and won his first match on grass since the 2019 Wimbledon final.

Federer has endured two torrid years on the ATP Tour, missing most of 2020 due to double knee surgery.

The 20-time grand slam champion had then been limited to six matches this season heading into this week.

Having finally found some momentum at the French Open, Federer withdrew from his fourth-round match and explained: "It's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery."

But the Swiss great was fit to finally step back out on a grass court for the first time since coming up short against Novak Djokovic at the All England Club.

And it was a winning return as Federer battled past Ilya Ivashka 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 in Germany.

Ivashka squandered two break point opportunities early in the opener and was quickly on the back foot after the set went to a tie-break, saving three set points but not a fourth.

Federer stayed patient in a second that stayed on serve initially, belatedly piling on the pressure to break in the final game having earlier passed up a match point at 5-4.

Fifth seed Federer was the only seed to win on Monday, however, as Sebastian Korda upset Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets and David Goffin gave Corentin Moutet a walkover.

There was a standout shock at the Queen's Club Championships, too, as talented teenager Jannik Sinner was pipped by home hopeful Jack Draper 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-2).

Draper's compatriot Cameron Norrie joined him in the last 16, battling back to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three.

Novak Djokovic is chasing more records following his history-making triumph after the world number one's French Open crown brought him closer to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for tennis supremacy.

Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to claim two or more titles at each of the four grand slams thanks to Sunday's stunning 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Serbian star Djokovic was two sets down on Court Philippe Chatrier, where he also became the first player in the Open Era to win a slam from two sets behind for his 19th major crown.

"I am thrilled and I'm very proud of this achievement," Djokovic – who upstaged clay specialist and defending champion Nadal in the semi-finals – told reporters afterwards. "I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me.

"I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career. Going through a four-and-a-half battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practicing yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first grand slam finals.

"It's always, of course, a bit tricky because you're playing for your trophy, for your first grand slam trophy, but you don't have much to lose. So I knew that he's going to probably start off very well, which was the case. It was a very close first set. Kind of gone a different way, but he was just the better player in those clutch moments. Second set I dropped physically and mentally I think a little bit. I just got fatigued a bit, just allowed him to kind of dominate the second set pretty much.

"Then went out from the court, as was the case against [Lorenzo] Musetti in the fourth round when I was two sets down, and came back as a different player. Just refreshed, managed to make a break, early break in the third. After that, I felt like I got into his head. I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. The momentum was on my side, it shifted. There was no looking back from that moment."

Djokovic is now just one trophy shy of equalling the record for most grand slam singles titles on the men's tour, currently shared by Nadal and Federer.

The 34-year-old insisted he will continue to chase records, with the ageing Nadal and Federer firmly in his sight.

"I never thought it was a mission impossible to reach the grand slams of these guys," Djokovic said. "I'm not there, but it's one less. But they are still playing. Obviously, they're playing great, especially Rafa with his level. We all have still opportunities at Wimbledon, all the other slams.

"You have four slams a year, so we're all competing for this amazing achievement and amazing trophies. I'll keep on going. I'll keep on chasing. At the same time, I'll keep on paving my own path, which is my own authentic path. We all three of us have our own journeys, and that's it."

Among those records is the golden grand slam – winning all four calendar majors as well as gold at the Olympic Games – with Wimbledon, the rescheduled Tokyo Games and US Open still to come in 2021 following his Australian Open success.

"Everything is possible. Definitely in my case I can say that what I've been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far," added Djokovic. "I've achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve. Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the golden slam.

"But, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible. So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days' time.

"I don't have an issue to say that I'm going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am. I was really happy to know that we are going to play Wimbledon this year, considering we haven't played it last year. I've had great success in the last couple of Wimbledon seasons that were played. I won in '18 and '19 there. Hopefully, I can keep that run going. I like the grass. Over the years I think I improved on grass, I adjusted my game. Hopefully, I can use this confidence that I have right now into Wimbledon, as well. Then let's take it from there."

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Tournament director Guy Forget said: "The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night.

"We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

Federer entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 win-loss record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month, and little was expected from him.

However, three wins on the spin showed he is not finished yet at the highest level, with his withdrawal suggesting he wants to preserve himself for Wimbledon, which starts at the end of the month.

Federer had been due to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the last 16 on Monday.

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Roger Federer returned a compliment to Andy Murray and looked ahead to a potential grass-court meeting the morning after a gruelling third-round win at Roland Garros.

Federer made round four at the French Open but was so drained by the experience that he suggested he could yet withdraw from the tournament as he looks to build up fitness ahead of Wimbledon.

The Swiss superstar entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month.

However, Federer has strung together three straight wins in Paris, beating Dominik Koepfer in the last 32 in a match that finished in the early hours of Sunday in the French capital.

The match started at 21:00 local time (20:00 GMT), in line with a coronavirus-enforced curfew that ensured the stands were empty on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Despite the strange experience and a determined opponent, Federer came through in four sets after three tie-breaks to continue his pursuit of a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

During the match, which finished at close to 01:00 local time (00:00 GMT), fellow great Murray posted on Twitter: "I'm not bothered by the outcome of this match at all.

"Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of two knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12:30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you [love]."

Murray himself has overcome a series of major injuries to remain on the ATP Tour, even backtracking on a retirement pledge in 2019.

So, Federer replied on Sunday: "Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it. See you on the [grass]."

There was no further comment on potentially quitting the French Open, where Federer is appearing for only the second time since the start of 2016 – he made the semi-finals two years ago.

His sublime major form has slowed over the past decade, making only nine finals compared to 22 in the previous 10 years.

If Federer is able to continue, he faces a tough ask on Monday, taking on Matteo Berrettini, who has become the first Italian to reach the last 16 of all four slams in the Open Era.

Roger Federer says he may withdraw from the French Open as he assesses the physical impact of his epic third round win over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Koepfer in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery, lasting three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times in the contest, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing close to 1am.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and conceded the physical toll the match took would make him assess his continuation at Roland Garros.

"We go through these matches, we analyse them highly and look on what's next and will do the same tonight and tomorrow, because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing, or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest," Federer said at his post-match news conference.

"Because I don't have the week in between here and Halle like normal to see what's best now, if you count back from Wimbledon and so forth.

"It's just a lot going on, but having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least."

He added: "Every match here or Geneva, I have to reassess the situation after the match and see in the morning how I wake up and how the knee feels.

"From that stand point for me, it always goes like that… maybe even more so after a match like this that has been long. Like I explained before, I've not been two-three-and-a-half hour battles in practice either."

Federer's third round win sees him move into the last-16 where he is scheduled to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini on Monday.

Roger Federer has outlasted Dominik Koepfer late into the Paris night in front of empty stands to book his spot in the last 16 of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam winner survived in three hours and 35 minutes to win 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5, finishing eerily at almost 1am with no crowd after Paris' 9pm curfew forced them home hours earlier.

The 39-year-old was challenged but found a way and will next face ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round, having secured victory in his longest match in 18 months since returning from two knee surgeries.

Koepfer dug in to hold in consecutive early service games, cheering in relief as Federer sent a backhand wide at the end of a near eight-minute back and forth.

The pressure applied by the Swiss great could not avoid a first-set tie-break, yet he never trailed and was able to take the opener following an untimely Koepfer double-fault.

The start to the second was sloppy, with Koepfer broken quickly after battling through a 29-shot rally, before three straight breaks of serve – two to love, the latter sealed with a gorgeous Koepfer return – brought him back on terms to tee up another breaker.

This time, Federer was on the back foot from the outset and fell into a hole from which he could not recover, his latest tired backhand prompting a roar from Koepfer as he levelled the match.

Koepfer had Federer in serious trouble when he broke at the start of the third set, the Swiss star leaving a lobbed return that landed on the line.

The veteran worked his way back, though, and got the contest back on serve at 4-4, even going on to have a set-point opportunity on the German's serve before the match moved into another tie-break.

Just when it looked like Federer was losing control of the breaker after firing a forehand wide, the eighth seed reeled off three consecutive points, a spell that included a thumping forehand winner, to move within a set of victory.

Koepfer was visibly frustrated when he fired a backhand wide in game three of the fourth set, which allowed his opponent - who now had all the momentum - to move ahead with a break.

But nothing was proving simple for either player, as an error-strewn service game from Federer allowed Koepfer to level the fourth set at 2-2.

With the clock well past midnight, Federer dug deep in the fourth set, breaking once more in the 11th game and sealing his spot in the fourth round when the second of three match points on serve saw Koepfer find the net.

Data Slam: A rare first for Federer

With 103 career titles and 20 majors to his name, there are not many firsts for Federer on the ATP Tour these days. However, this match produced one for the man who turns 40 this year.

This was the first time in 424 grand slam contests Federer had played a tie-break in each of the first three sets of a match. And there was almost a fourth straight breaker until he claimed that crucial late strike on the serve of Koepfer.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Koepfer – 55/40
Federer – 51/63

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Koepfer – 11/4
Federer – 6/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Koepfer – 4/6
Federer – 5/14

Roger Federer took "a lot of confidence" from his four-set win over Marin Cilic as he produced his best display of the year at the French Open.

The 39-year-old beat the 2014 US Open champion 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday, building on his first-round defeat of Denis Istomin with an impressive performance.

Federer looked in command in the first set but lost rhythm in the second amid sharpened play from Cilic and a strange confrontation with the umpire after a time violation warning while receiving serve.

The match was on a knife-edge heading into the third-set tie-break, but Federer was clinical when it mattered, serving out the set with an ace before assuming control again in the fourth.

"[It was a] very good match for me, I thought," said Federer, who will face Dominik Koepfer in round three. "A bit of up-and-downs in the second and third sets.

"The good thing, I feel like I come out of a match like this and I know why it was up and down, and then that I was able to attain a solid level once he did break back in the third set and things were looking dangerous for me.

"That I was able to step up a gear, stay with him, and then pull away from him, I think that gives me a lot of confidence."

DJOKOVIC AND NADAL IN CRUISE CONTROL

World number one Novak Djokovic is another who is finding his feet on the Paris dirt, the 2016 champion beating clay specialist Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Djokovic, who will face Ricardas Berankis next after his win over James Duckworth, struck 31 winners as he moved to 22-3 for the year with his 350th grand slam match win.

"I'm playing well, feeling great. I'm ready to go deep in this tournament," he said. "Hopefully, that's going to be the case."

Defending champion Rafael Nadal was in imperious form in the late match, dispatching Richard Gasquet 6-0 7-5 6-2.

Nadal, who turned 35 on Thursday, won the opening seven games in under half an hour in a largely one-sided contest as he improved to 17-0 against the Frenchman, the most one-sided head-to-head of his career.

The Spaniard, who has not even dropped a set to Gasquet since 2008, said of winning once again in three: "I honestly don't complain at all! The main thing for me is to feel myself play well.

"In theory, it's better to save some energy, but at the same time, sometimes when you are pushed at the beginning of a tournament, you went through some tough moments, that helps a lot for the next rounds.

"It happened for me in Rome like this. I had some tough challenges at the beginning of the tournament, and then you get to the quarters, semis and final and you know you're going to suffer and you're more ready for the situation."

MONFLIS OUT, KWON EYEING SLICE OF HISTORY

Cameron Norrie continued the British interest in the French capital, recovering from a set down to defeat Lloyd Harris and reach round three for the first time, and will face Nadal next.

In a mixed day for the seeded players, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini advanced in straight sets while Jannik Sinner beat compatriot Gianluca Mager 6-1 7-5 3-6 6-3.

However, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev was beaten in four sets by veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, while 21st seed Alex De Minaur lost in four sets to Marco Cecchinato.

There was also disappointment for home favourite Gael Monfils. The 14th seed was beaten 6-0 2-6 6-4 6-3 by Mikael Ymer, the world number 105.

However, Thursday saw a moment to remember for Kwon Soon-woo, who reached round three of a major for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Andreas Seppi. He is bidding to become the first South Korean player to get to round four at Roland Garros.

There were impressive wins as well for teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Carlos Alcaraz Garfica, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets to secure a meeting with Jan-Lennard Struff.

Roger Federer produced his best display of the year to defeat Marin Cilic in four sets in the second round of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam singles champion overcame frustrations with the umpire and the powerful resilience of his opponent to win 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Thursday.

The Swiss great holds an 11-1 lead in their head-to-head record, that one defeat coming back in the US Open semi-finals in 2014 when Cilic went on to lift the trophy, and it seemed as though Federer had their latest contest on his racquet early on.

He raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set before closing it out in just 31 minutes, the crowd left stunned when the eighth seed stretched up to produce a remarkable drop-shot return winner.

Matters became trickier in the second set as Cilic went 3-0 ahead and only some precise serve-and-forehand work from Federer prevented the double break.

A curious moment occurred with Cilic leading 3-1 when Federer was issued a time violation when receiving serve at deuce. A bemused Federer spoke at length with the umpire before calling to Cilic, "Am I playing too slow?".

Although far from descending into a shouting match, the incident seemed to throw off Federer, who gifted the set to Cilic with two forehand errors and looked unsettled until he refocused with a ripped backhand winner in the opening game of the third.

Cilic forced the tie-break after Federer had spurned an easy chance for a double break, but a double fault from the world number 47 handed the initiative to his rival, who by this time looked imperious on serve and in control from the baseline.

An ace on his first set point wrapped up the breaker and another Cilic double fault saw him fall a break behind in the fourth. This time, Federer did not allow a sniff of a comeback.

Data Slam: Federer back in the groove with clinical display

More accustomed to facing Cilic in the later stages of majors – he has beaten the Croatian in Wimbledon and Australian Open finals – Federer nonetheless needed to find something close to his best tennis after allowing early control to slip away in only his fourth match since returning after knee surgery.

The 39-year-old fired down 16 aces to one double fault and 47 winners to just 27 unforced errors. As Cilic said before the contest: "No matter the age, Roger has the formula."

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Cilic – 43/44
Federer – 47/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Cilic – 12/6
Federer – 16/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Cilic – 3/8
Federer – 5/16

Roger Federer is enjoying the "whole rhythm thing" of playing at a grand slam again but admits he has no idea what he is capable of achieving at the French Open.

The Swiss looked sharp in his first-round match on Monday against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, posting a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win – coming through his first match at a major since the 2020 Australian Open and subsequent knee surgery.

It was partly his prowess but perhaps also the shortcomings of Istomin's performance that allowed 2009 champion Federer to put on a show on Court Philippe Chatrier, setting up a clash with a familiar foe in Marin Cilic next.

Federer and Cilic will be going head to head for an 11th time – Federer leads the series 9-1 – and for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open final, which went the way of Basle's 20-time grand slam winner in five sets.

It will be their sixth clash in a slam and at the earliest stage they have encountered each other at a major, with those past tussles also including the 2017 Wimbledon final, when an injury-hampered Cilic lost in straight sets.

Federer spoke after beating Istomin of how it is difficult to gauge what he might go on to manage at Roland Garros.

"In a way, I like this situation, that I don't know what's next, how my next match will be. I don't even know who I play, to be honest," Federer said.

"I take it round by round, match by match. I think it's going to help me, with the way I go about it. I'm very happy I won today. It gives me a chance again to test myself on Thursday, I believe. I don't know when I'm playing.

"So see how I feel tomorrow morning. Just all these things going through practice, coming to the site, seeing people, just this whole rhythm thing.

"It's nice to be back in it."

Federer is in Paris without his family due to COVID-19 restrictions and worries it will be the same story at Wimbledon.

But he added: "We signed up for it. I didn't do rehab to then sit at home again. There's a lot to look forward to."

MEDVEDEV WINS AT LAST

Daniil Medvedev's status as the second seed in Paris was the factor that made it possible for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to be drawn in the same half of the draw, which is what transpired.

There is an element of farce about Medvedev being seeded above 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, because the Russian has gone out in the first round in each of his previous visits to the clay-court slam.

However, on Monday, the world number two made a breakthrough, winning well in a match where he was expected to run into trouble as he earned a 6-3 6-3 7-5 victory over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.

"It doesn't feel different than the Australian Open for me coming into this tournament. Now when I'm coming to these big tournaments feeling like this, I know I'm capable of doing big things," Medvedev said.

"If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good."

NEXTGEN MAKE EARLY IMPACT

David Goffin, the Belgian 13th seed, lost 6-0 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, and it was a day when the sight of 39-year-old Federer turning on the style was balanced by the inspiring sight of the next generation showing their potential.

Musetti's fellow Italian Jannik Sinner is also 19 and is the 18th seed, showing on Monday he has the fight to come through tough battles, rallying from two sets to one down to beat experienced French player Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.

It was the first time Sinner had won a deciding set in a best-of-five match.

Sinner, Musetti and Spain's Carlos Alcaraz could all be major factors at Roland Garros in future years.

Alcaraz, who turned 18 in early May, followed up his run through qualifying and to the second round of the Australian Open by doing the same in the French capital.

He dropped only 11 games in winning three best-of-three-set qualifiers last week and was too strong for his 24-year-old compatriot Bernabe Zapata Miralles, snatching a 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) win for a first senior win at Roland Garros.

"I think the mental game is really, really important in this kind of matches," Alcaraz said. "You have to be focused and calm all the match, like three hours and 10 minutes.

"It's really important and not easy to do. In the match I trusted a lot in my physical side. I could play really, really good game during the whole match."

Roger Federer returned to grand slam tennis with a rout typical of the Swiss great as he breezed past Denis Istomin in the French Open first round.

Even at the age of 39, and with his 40th birthday coming up in August, Federer is capable of brutally dismantling inferior opponents on the big stage, and a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win took just an hour and 33 minutes.

It was every bit the masterclass that such a scoreline suggests, although far more strenuous tests await Federer in Paris. The outcome means he has not dropped a set in round one at Roland Garros since 2003, when he was beaten by Peruvian Luis Horna.

Expectations are different of him this year after knee surgery, with Federer drawn in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic but widely regarded as being a major outsider, having not featured at any grand slam since losing to Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open semi-finals. He has barely played since then, winning just one match until this demolition.

A French Open champion in 2009 and four times a runner-up, Federer has not made clay a priority in his schedule over recent years and has been absent for four of the last five editions of this tournament.

That did not mean there was a lukewarm reception for him on Court Philippe-Chatrier, however, with the 20-time major winner instead greeted enthusiastically.

This was an eighth career clash between Federer and his Uzbek opponent, and a third in the first round of a slam. The aggregate set score in those three clashes is now 9-0 to Federer, Istomin unable to find a way into such matches, with this loss following Australian Open pastings in 2006 and 2019 – their one-sided rivalry going back a long way.

He has never lost to 34-year-old Istomin, who served two double faults in his opening service game here and was broken immediately, Federer striking again in game seven before serving out to take the first set against the qualifier in 22 minutes, having served six aces and landed 95 per cent of his first serves.

Rusty? Far from it, so it seemed.

Istomin, in glasses and a headband, was helped by that first-serve percentage coming down to 57 in the second set, but Federer's overall play stayed at a high level. Victory was his when Istomin paddled an attempted drop shot into the net.

DATA SLAM: Federer in fine fettle

Federer won five of 13 break-point opportunities across the contest, while Istomin did not have a single chance against the world number eight's serve. Federer's winners-to-unforced-errors ratio of 48:20 also spoke volumes of his performance, a fortnight on from losing to Pablo Andujar in his opening match in Geneva.

The surprise Andujar defeat was given some context on Sunday when the Spaniard sank the Roland Garros hopes of fourth seed Dominic Thiem.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Federer – 48/20
Istomin – 18/14

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Federer – 8/0
Istomin – 3/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Federer - 5/13
Istomin - 0/0

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – a statement largely true until Rafael Nadal emerged on the scene and made the French Open his own.

Since breaking through for his first Roland Garros triumph in 2005, only three other men – Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – have managed to interrupt Nadal's dominance in Paris.

Nadal has won 13 French Open men's singles titles, seven more than any other player in the Open era (Bjorn Borg, six) heading into this year's edition.

Despite being seeded third, it would take a brave person to bet against defending champion Nadal adding to his mammoth and unprecedented haul in the French capital, where the second grand slam of the year gets underway on Sunday.

On the women's side, defending champion Iga Swiatek is looking to follow in the footsteps of Belgian great Justine Henin.

As all eyes shift to Court Philippe Chatrier and its surroundings, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind this year's slam, using Opta data.

 

The 'King of Clay'

Nadal will open his title defence against Australian Alexei Popyrin. Since 2000, only Nadal (13) and Gustavo Kuerten (two) have won the French Open more than once.

The 34-year-old swept aside world number one Djokovic in straight sets last year for his fourth consecutive French Open crown and 20th slam trophy, equalling Roger Federer's all-time record. Nadal maintained his stranglehold on the major, having not dropped a set throughout the fortnight. Only three players have previously won the French Open without losing a single set: Ilie Nastase in 1973, Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and Nadal in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

Nadal is the only player to have won the same slam more than 10 times. He has lost just two of the 102 matches played in Paris (excluding walkovers), losing to Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, while has won each of the last 30.

The record for most slam titles on the men's circuit will also be up for grabs, with Nadal and the returning Federer seeking to snap their tie.

In the last 25 years, the number one seed has won the French Open on only five occasions – Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Kuerten (2001). It does not bode well for top seed and 18-time major champion Djokovic, who is looking to close the gap on foes Nadal and Federer.

Australian Open champion Djokovic, who will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round, has reached the final in seven of the last 10 slams he contested, claiming six titles. However, the Serbian star has only featured in five French Open deciders (W1 L4) – fewer than in any of the other three major tournaments.

 

Declining Federer, Nadal challengers?

The French Open will be a welcome sight for tennis fans as Swiss great Federer, who has not played a slam since the 2020 Australian Open due to his troublesome knee and the coronavirus pandemic, makes his comeback.

Seeded eighth ahead of his opener against Denis Istomin, 2009 French Open champion Federer has only contested nine slam finals over the last 10 years (W4 L5) after reaching that stage in 22 major events in the previous decade (W16 L6). Since the beginning of 2016, the 39-year-old has only taken part in one French Open, in 2019, where he reached the semi-finals.

Daniil Medvedev has been flirting with a breakthrough slam triumph. The second seed is a finalist at the Australian Open (2021) and US Open (2019). Medvedev has reached the semi-finals in two of his most recent three appearances at a grand slam after going further than the fourth round in only one of his previous 13 major tournaments. However, the Russian has lost in the first round in each of his four Roland Garros appearances.

US Open champion and fourth seed Dominic Thiem has played two finals at Roland Garros (2018 and 2019) – more than in any other slam – but lost both of them against Nadal. He has won 80 per cent of his games at the French Open, his best win rate in any of the four majors.

Andrey Rublev is the only player to have taken part in the quarter-finals during each of the past three grand slams, including the 2020 French Open. But the seventh seed – who fired down 53 aces at Roland Garros last year, at least 14 more than any other player – is yet to progress further than that round.

Aslan Karatsev enjoyed a fairy-tale run at Melbourne Park in February, the Russian qualifier making it all the way to the semi-finals. Only one qualifier has reached the semi-final stage at the French Open: Filip Dewulf in 1997.

 

Iga in 14-year first?

Having never progressed beyond the fourth round of a major, Polish teenager Swiatek broke through for her maiden slam title via the French Open last year, upstaging Sofia Kenin.

The 19-year-old Swiatek – who will return as the eighth seed in her defence, starting against Kaja Juvan – could become the first woman to win consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Henin in 2005-2007 (three in a row). Only three players have won multiple titles in the women's tournament at the French Open in the 21st century: Henin (four), Serena Williams (three) and Maria Sharapova (two).

Swiatek could claim the French Open and Rome's Internazionali d'Italia in the same campaign. Only Serena Williams (2002 and 2013), Sharapova (2012), Monica Seles (1990), Steffi Graf (1987) and Chris Evert (1974, 1975 and 1980) have achieved the feat previously.

Swiatek celebrated slam glory in the absence of world number one and defending champion Ash Barty in 2020. No player has won more games on clay this season than Australian top seed Barty and Veronika Kudermetova (both 13).

Only Barty (three) has won more titles than third seed Aryna Sabalenka (two) in 2021 – the Belarusian is one of two players currently ranked in the top 20 in the WTA yet to reach a major quarter-final, alongside Maria Sakkari.

In a field also including four-time slam champion and reigning Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka – the second seed – Sabalenka could become only the third woman to win the Madrid Open and French Open in the same season after Serena Williams in 2013 and Sharapova in 2014.

As for fourth seed Kenin, she could be just the fourth American player to reach back-to-back Roland Garros finals, after Serena Williams (2015-16), Martina Navratilova (1984-1987) and Evert (1973-1975, 1979-80 and 1983-1986).

 

All eyes on Serena

The queen of WTA tennis for so long, Serena Williams is one slam success away from matching Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles championships. But the 39-year-old has been stuck on 23 since reigning supreme at the Australian Open in 2017.

While the French clay is not one of her favourite surfaces, it could be the scene of a remarkable achievement following a lengthy wait.

Roland Garros is where Williams has the lowest winning percentage (84 per cent) and where she won the fewest titles (three, at least half as many as the other slams).

Williams won her maiden French Open in 2002 and could hoist the trophy aloft 19 years after her first success in Paris. The longest span between two majors wins for a single player in the Open era is already held by Williams (15 years between 1999 and 2014 at the US Open).

Irina-Camelia Begu awaits the seventh seed in the first round.

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