Age, time, lead to implantable situations until not long ago. For example, for Roger Federer, a purebred winner who debates tennis to be the best in the history of his sport with two other giants, openly admit that he has come to Paris, one of the four sacred temples of the racket, simply to shoot. Hint of a new era, who knows if a definitive turning point. “I’m just realistic. I know that I won’t win [Roland Garros] and whoever can think about it, is wrong ”, warned the champion of 20 majors, the myth, on the threshold of his return to the great Frenchman, now turned into a field of tests to eliminate rust and regain the competitive pulse in the face of his true objective, to resurrect sportily at Wimbledon.
“Of course, crazier things can happen, but I don’t think that in the last 50 years someone who’s been off the track for a year and a half came here at 40 and showed off. I know what my limitations are at the moment ”, the Swiss warned in a speech as realistic as it was novel, because his hordes of faithful still have a hard time assuming that he, Federer, the genius, assumes in advance that their options are practically nil in a great tournament. “A lot has happened since I’ve been away. It will be an additional challenge for me, even more difficult to regain the level, but from the beginning I knew that it would not be easy, regardless of whether I had been injured for a year or three months ”, completed the one in Basel, who despite the gigantic dimension of the challenge he accepts it: his story, he says, is not over yet.
Federer does not give up (6-2, 6-4 and 6-3 to Denis Istomin this Monday). Despite the fact that on August 8 he will reach quarantine, he says he still feels strong and willing to continue litigating. In any case, since he underwent a first arthroscopy in his right knee in February last year – a second was necessary in June, due to a setback in recovery – many things have changed: the new generation has had the tusks, Nadal and Djokovic have each bagged another big one –equal to 20 with the Spaniard, two above the number one– and their bodywork, almost impeccable until five years ago, begins to accumulate scratches. It already happened to him in 2016, then arrested by his left knee; He returned, resurrected and re-enlisted, but the circumstances are now quite different.
Federer considered returning to activity at the beginning of the year, but reconsidered the decision: the joint did not finish responding and postponed his return until March 10, 405 days after having played his last match. And there, more doubts. More concern. He beat Daniel Evans in the Doha comeback, gave in the next day against Nikoloz Basilashvili and then gave up playing in Dubai because his body was not following him enough: “I have decided that it is best to continue training.” He moved a piece and gave up the most relevant appointments of the tour on land to return to Geneva, where he lost against Pablo Andújar before landing in Paris, where he triumphed in 2009 and the figures dispel a deceptive feeling: in the Bois de Boulogne, only Nadal (100) and Djokovic (74) have won more times than him (71).
On the last occasion that he paraded down the clayey catwalk in Paris, two years ago, the Swiss – 80 already big in the legs – reached the semifinals and gave in to the Majorcan, after a more than remarkable spring route. Today, however, he conceives the major Parisian as a mere shuttle to accumulate mileage and calibrate his shots for Wimbledon, a primary objective from June 28, and the staging was simply overwhelming. As in the old days: in just 1h 23m – the most abbreviated victory of this edition, along with that of Karen Khachanov against Jiri Vesely, same chronometer – Federer dismounted Istomin and returned to celebrate a victory in a Grand Slam, 487 days later Than he achieved last year in the Australian Open quarters, against Tennys Sandgren.
With 48 winners and giving up only nine points with the first service, the Basel player entered the second round, meeting with Marin Cilic or Arthur Rinderknech. “It is a pleasure to be back. It has cost me a bit, but here I am again ”, he expressed with a smile from ear to ear, with the overalls in Paris and London in mind.