Roger Federer will probably never look back fondly at the French Open once he hangs up his racquet. Paris hasn’t been full of love and joy for the Swiss legend.
Of his 17 Grand Slam titles, only one of them has come at Roland Garros and his long overdue 18th was never likely to come here on his least favoured clay surface. He should really write the dirt off as a young man’s game.
The 33-year-old is in fine company as a quarter-final loser, however, as ‘The King of Clay’ and Federer’s main reason for winning just once in the French capital, Rafael Nadal, succumbed to the unstoppable Novak Djokovic in another quarter-final.
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Perhaps most disappointingly for Federer was that it wasn’t somebody like Djokovic who ended his run, as his Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka – not in a rich vein of form himself – booked a place in the semi-finals with a straight sets victory.
Over the last few years, despite retaining a measure of his vintage best, Federer has had to come to terms with Grand Slam disappointment and his mind won’t stay on this defeat for long. Indeed he is already focusing on his best chance of that elusive Major title no.18…Wimbledon.
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He’s a seven-time champion in London and his narrow final defeat last year showed that this is the event where he can still be considered as one of the favourites, though he’ll be secretly hoping for a debilitating injury to the world no.1 Djokovic.
Unsurprisingly, that is already where his head is.
“I am already thinking about Wimbledon because it’s a big goal for the season,” Federer mentioned after his defeat.
“That’s where I want to play my best. This year is a bit different as we have an extra week to prepare but there is nothing positive about losing today because I don’t need the extra days.
“I will recover and spend time with my family, then look forward to Halle and Wimbledon. It’s a big goal.
“I want to win it and I feel like my game is good. It’s been solid, it’s been positive and I have just got to keep it up.”
Federer will no doubt relish the opportunity to do some scouting on the last two winners of the competition he is eyeing from the comfort of his own sofa.
Djokovic’s next challenger at the French Open will be Britain’s very own Andy Murray. The Scottish-born star, like Federer, is more comfortable on the grass or hard courts, but is experiencing unprecedented success on the clay courts this year.
The 27-year-old has won the first two clay titles of his career and has already matched his best-ever performance at the French Open by reaching the last four on the back of a win over the ever-threatening David Ferrer.
It won’t be long before the British summer is confirmed by the sight of the likes of Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal in their whites – most probably sheltering from the rain on Centre Court as the roof slowly whirs into life.