(photo credit: Reuters)
PARIS – This year’s French Open is seen by many as the dawn of a new era in
men’s tennis: namely, the post-Roger Federer era.
For the first time
since Wimbledon 2003, the 29-year-old Swiss master is not among the top two
seeds at a Grand Slam tournament after falling back to No. 3 in the ATP rankings
Novak Djokovic’s emergence along with Rafael Nadal’s dominance
in 2010 has seen the spotlight shine elsewhere as Federer has sailed through the
first four rounds at Roland Garros almost overlooked.
Well, as much as a
record 16-time Grand Slam winner can go overlooked.
With his most recent
triumph at a major coming all the way back – by his standards – at last year’s
Australian Open, and with his record against Djokovic and Nadal at an abysmal
0-6 this year, expectations from Federer coming into Paris were unprecedentedly
But with each win on the red clay, Federer is forcing more and more
people to question their pre-tournament predictions.
So is Federer
actually a real contender for his second French Open title this year? He most
certainly thinks so.
“People expected me to hopefully win or to prove
myself here in Paris over many, many years, and this year I don’t have to do
that because I have already won this tournament before,” Federer said. “And now
the expectations are sky high for Novak and Rafa because he’s the defending
champion; that leaves me a bit out of the pressure situation, which is not a bad
thing for me.”
In fact, Federer is even embracing his new role in men’s
“It’s very nice playing tennis in such a situation, because I
feel I have less pressure than 10 years ago when everyone was comparing me to
Sampras and I had not won anything yet. So it’s more relaxed now,” he
“I’m at peace with my game right now. I’m physically fine. I
think I had a good preparation and it’s really nice to be moving in the draw so
well so quickly.”
Despite his impressive play so far in Paris, Federer,
who has yet to drop a set, remains the third favorite behind Nadal and
He was in imperious form against Janko Tipsarevic and Stanislas
Wawrinka in the last two rounds, but there’s no doubt that tougher tests are
still to come.
However, even if the Coupe des Mousquetaires goes
elsewhere, Federer has given notice that regardless of his seeding he will be a
challenger at every Grand Slam event he plays until the day he
Sure, he may not be able to play consistently well as he did at
his prime, but he is happier and more relaxed than ever and that is not good
news for Nadal, Djokovic or anyone else on the ATP tour.