June 20, 2021

At Roland-Garros, Roger Federer in unknown lands

By dint of declaiming for years his record when he entered the court, Marc Maury would almost age Roger Federer. For the entry into the running of Switzerland, Monday, May 31, the announcer of Roland-Garros made go up his first title on the circuit in the last century, before correcting himself. The person concerned will certainly celebrate his 40th birthday on August 8, but he still delivers lectures to his opponents, as can be seen by his victim of the day, the Uzbek Denis Istomin – who, at 34, himself acts as a veteran -, eliminated in 1 h 33 (6-2, 6-4, 6-3).

Two years, and his semi-final lost to Rafael Nadal, that the public at Porte d’Auteuil had not seen the icon again. Even before the first exchange, enamored declarations to Saint “RodGER” rained down from the stands of the court Philippe-Chatrier, where, under an immaculate azure sky, a thousand spectators had taken their seats – the maximum level authorized until June 8.

For his introduction, Roger Federer did not have to force his talent against an opponent (204e world) who had never beaten him in seven confrontations and who, without offending him, has neither his offensive palette nor his science of the game, especially on this surface. “What a pleasure to be back, it took a little while, I had a lot of rehabilitation and a long period of training but that’s enough, now I want to play games, the weather is nice, you are there, it’s nice ! “, exclaimed the Swiss, red polo shirt and navy blue shorts, at the microphone of Fabrice Santoro.

Four hundred and eighty-seven days after his last Grand Slam appearance, the former boss of the circuit – still 8e world thanks to the freeze of the ranking – is back to business, and is trying to regain the heights after a double arthroscopy in the right knee in 2020 which kept him thirteen months away from the circuit. Before his arrival in Paris, he had only played three games since his resumption in March: two in Doha, and only one on ocher in Geneva, mid-May – lost against the Spaniard Pablo Andujar, executioner of Dominic Thiem in the first Sunday tour.

Wimbledon in the crosshairs

But it is on Wimbledon that he has his eyes riveted. “The goal is not Roland-Garros, it’s the grass season and Wimbledon, so I still have time”, he insisted in Geneva after his early release. Eight times crowned at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, he will go in July in search of a new crown and a 21e Grand Slam title. Before, probably, to head for Tokyo to try to glean Olympic gold in singles, the only accomplishment that is lacking in a record as long as the arm.

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