PARIS – In the night match of the third round, which ended at 12:45 pm. On Sunday on an almost empty central court, Roger Federer managed to gather energy and inspiration to keep Dominic Koepfer, 7-6 (5), 6-7 3), 7-6 (4), 7-5.
“It was definitely unique in many ways, and I’m happy to have found a way, especially an emotional one,” said Federer, 39. “How do you deal with the loss of this second set?” How do you manage to keep pushing and trying to power the energy of the team and all the people watching on TV? “
Federer first played in the 1999 French Open as a teenager on a sunny afternoon, losing to Patrick Rafter. Twenty-two years later, he has the dubious honor of playing in his first session of the French Open. The sessions, new this year and created in part to increase television revenue, are being held without paying viewers due to the limitations of the pandemic evening hour in Paris.
Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and now Federer have all played and won under the lights, but Federer is closest to the big problems, taking 3 hours and 35 minutes.
Next: a terrible match from the fourth round on Monday with Matteo Beretini from Italy, but only if Federer decides to play. This is only his third tournament in 16 months after two knee surgeries, and he said he would make the final decision on whether to stay at the French Open only after seeing how his body reacted to Saturday’s grueling match. Wimbledon, which starts on June 28, remains its top priority.
“I don’t know if I will play,” he said of Beretini’s match. “I’ll discuss with the team and go from there.”
It wasn’t a big run against Köpfer – Federer didn’t score points for a game and wasn’t pressed until the fifth set – but it was certainly an escape.
Köpfer, a seedless German who doesn’t start playing tennis seriously until the age of 16, often prolongs rallies by playing well behind the starting level in severe late-night conditions. He was repeatedly rewarded with wrong hits and mistakes by Federer. The Swiss star finished with 63 unforced errors to 51 winners.
“I guess the business needs to keep moving,” Federer said of the new time interval. “But one thing is certain: the days and nights of clay make a huge difference. You can’t compare the two while on a hard pad you think it’s pretty similar. “
Federer failed to break a serve in the third set before recovering. In the fourth set, Köpfer lost his pass at 1-1 with a backhand error. After the chair referee came down from his chair to confirm the mark of the ball, Köpfer moved to the other side of the net and, looking back over his shoulder to make sure the chair referee was not looking, leaned forward. and spat angrily on the ball marked and wiped it with his foot.
However, other officers watched and Koepfer was punished by a point for unsportsmanlike conduct. Although he started the next match with 15: 0, he still managed to break through Federer, as the Swiss player missed a series of forehands. Köpfer shouted triumphantly, and Federer shouted in frustration at his box, and the voices of the two men echoed through the stadium.
Only journalists, officials, staff members of the tournament and the teams of players were present.
“Thank you for not putting everyone to sleep,” Federer said, waving his hand at the small, very small, stands.