Irrespective of the surface, there is no denying the greatness of Roger Federer. But at the age of 39 and with a lack of match practice, there are some doubts about Federer’s chances at Roland Garros. Just one title in 2009, Federer has not had the best results on the clay-courts of France.
Over the last few years, Federer has not prioritized the clay-court season. He has played the Roland-Garros once, since 2016 and hasn’t won a clay title since Istanbul in 2015. With one title, five finals, and a semifinal finish in his last appearance in 2019 in his resume, Federer is still amongst the best clay courters in the business. If not for Rafael Nadal, it would be a very different debate.
Paul Annacone, who coached Federer for three years, said “Other than Novak [Djokovic] and Rafa [Nadal], and probably [Dominic] Thiem, although you don’t know the way he is feeling right now, are there really a lot of other people you’re putting ahead of Roger at Roland-Garros?”
The former coach continued “I find it really hard to believe that a player that great is going to a tournament not thinking or hoping they can win. I don’t see it, from the time I spent with Roger and Sampras I don’t remember them ever going anywhere where they are not trying to win.”
What are the odds of Roger Federer claiming a second Roland Garros title?
Going into the French Open, Nadal, and Djokovic will definitely fancy their chances over Federer. With only two competitive matches in the last 14 months, it is a tall task for the “King of Grass”. And with the likes of Thiem, Tsitsipas, and Rublev getting better on clay, it does not look like Federer will progress beyond the quarter-finals, maybe the semi-finals at best.
Perhaps clay is almost a necessary evil for Federer this year, without it, he would go to grass without any extra match practice. But if history is anything to go by, never bet against Roger Federer.
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