The Maestro was not in the lace for his comeback. Roger Federer easily eliminated the Uzbek Denis Istomin, 204th in the world, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3, in 1 h 34. It had been two years since the Swiss had not set foot in Paris. Suffice to say that the audience of Philippe-Chatrier was impatiently awaiting it. Like the “Roger, I love you! Will you marry me ?”, dropped at all costs when entering the court.
However, there were many questions for the return of world number 8 to Parisian ocher. How was he going to deal with his lack of benchmarks? Could he hold a full match in five sets? His regular pain in his right knee forced the Helvetian to undergo a double operation last year. The result: many weeks on crutches, a long rehabilitation and thirteen months without competition in the midst of a pandemic. Back in March in Doha, Roger Federer did not shine, winning only one match. And his defeat in the first round in Geneva a fortnight ago against Pablo Andujar (Dominic Thiem striker on Sunday) did not reassure many people. The Swiss have therefore only been able to put together three small games since the start of the year.
“I’m just a realist, I know I won’t win Roland and anyone who thinks I will or could do it is wrong, he declared in Geneva two weeks ago. Of course, crazier things could have happened, but I’m not sure that in the last fifty years at Roland Garros anyone has landed at 40, having been away for a year and a half, and won. “
A one-sided match
However, the Swiss achieved a faultless Monday. In control throughout the match, Roger Federer was very solid on his service plays, multiplying the climbs to the net, the winning forehands and the deadlines well felt. Poor Istomin could not do anything against an opponent who seemed in full possession of his means. Unable to stop the Swiss machine, too passive, the Uzbek, described as an adversary “Ideal for a first round” by Federer after the match, was overtaken for a little over an hour and a half.
“What a pleasure to be back! Federer let go, relieved after his victory. It took me a while to come back, a lot of rehabilitation, training… But now that’s enough, I want games! ” The stake of this Roland-Garros for Switzerland is there: to reassure oneself, to find automatisms, to gain playing time and if possible some victories. Because his “Big goal” of the season remains Wimbledon.
For Gaël Monfils, who recently trained for two days with the Helvète in Geneva, there is no doubt that the man with the twenty Grand Slam titles is gradually returning to his best level: “It’s fabulous the speed at which he found the rhythm, the panache. His level of play has risen a lot. I see the difference in his movement, in his typing quality… If he comes to Roland, it is because he feels ready to do something very well ”, ensures the tricolor.
“I don’t really know where I am. We’ll see… To be honest, I like this situation, I don’t know what awaits me, how my next game will be, I don’t even know who I’m going to play. I go match by match, round after round, Federer told a post-match press conference. It’s true that it feels good to win again. To be reassured, you have to win. It’s not enough to play well in training. Besides, the workouts, I’m fed up now, I’ve done enough. I know how to handle them. It’s especially in matches that I have to prove to myself that I’m playing well. And I did it today, I’m very satisfied with it. “ His opponent in the next round, the Croatian Marin Cilic (47th world), had better watch out. The Swiss veteran seems to be back.