PARIS — In a third-round night time match that ended at 12:45 a.m. Sunday in a almost empty heart courtroom, Roger Federer managed to summon the vitality and inspiration to carry off Dominik Koepfer, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (three), 7-6 (four), 7-5.
“It was definitely unique in many ways, and I’m happy I found a way, also especially emotionally,” the 39-year-old Federer mentioned. “How do you handle losing that second set? How do you handle to keep pushing yourself on and trying to feed off the energy of the team and all the people watching on TV?”
“I was in many ways also playing for them,” Federer mentioned of the viewers.
Federer first performed the French Open in 1999 as a teenager on a sunlit afternoon, shedding to Patrick Rafter. Twenty-two years later, he had the doubtful honor of taking part in in his first French Open night time session. The classes, new this 12 months and created in half to extend tv income, are being held with out paying spectators due to pandemic curfew restrictions in Paris.
There’s nothing fairly prefer it ❤️ pic.twitter.com/A5SCKFptrs
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) June 6, 2021
Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and now Federer have all performed and gained underneath the lights, however Federer got here closest to huge hassle, needing three hours 35 minutes to prevail.
Next up: a daunting fourth-round match on Monday with Matteo Berrettini of Italy, however provided that Federer decides to play. This is simply his third match in 16 months after two knee surgical procedures, and he mentioned he would make a ultimate determination on whether or not to stay in the French Open solely after seeing how his physique reacted to Saturday night time’s grueling match. Wimbledon, which begins June 28, stays his essential precedence.
“I don’t know if I’m going to play,” he mentioned of the Berrettini match. “I will discuss with the team, and I go from there.”
It was not a nice escape towards Koepfer — Federer confronted no match factors and was not pushed to a fifth set — nevertheless it was actually an escape.
Koepfer, an unseeded German who didn’t start taking part in tennis significantly till age 16, typically prolonged the rallies by taking part in from properly behind the baseline in the heavy, late-evening situations. He was repeatedly rewarded with mis-hits and miscues by Federer. The Swiss star completed with 63 unforced errors to 51 winners.
“I guess business needs to keep moving,” Federer mentioned of the brand new time slot. “But one thing’s for sure: Days and nights on clay make a huge difference. You cannot compare the two, whereas on hardcourt, you feel it’s quite similar.”
Federer was down a break of serve in the third set earlier than recovering. In the fourth set, Koepfer misplaced his serve at 1-1 with a backhand error. After the chair umpire had descended from his chair to verify the ball mark, Koepfer crossed to the opposite aspect of the web and, after wanting again over his shoulder to verify the chair umpire was not watching, leaned ahead and spit angrily on the ball mark and wiped it along with his foot.
Other officers have been watching, nevertheless, and Koepfer was given a level penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Though he began the subsequent sport at a 15-Zero drawback, he nonetheless managed to interrupt Federer again because the Swiss participant missed a collection of forehands. Koepfer shouted triumphantly, and Federer shouted in frustration towards his field, each males’s voices reverberating by means of the stadium.
Only journalists, officers, match employees members and the gamers’ groups have been in attendance.
“Thanks for not falling asleep, everybody,” Federer mentioned with a wave to the few, the only a few, in the stands.