Let’s not forget about good ol’ Roger yet

Roland Garros Notebook: Despite his impressive play so far in Paris, Federer remains the third favorite behind Nadal and Djokovic.

Roger Federer_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Roger Federer_311
(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 in March.
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 low.
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 tennis.
“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 said.
“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 Djokovic.
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 retires.
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.