PARIS (Reuters) -Roger Federer said he will assess his further participation in the French Open after Saturday’s gruelling 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 7-5 win over Germany’s Dominik Koepfer on an empty Court Philippe Chatrier which ended past midnight.
The 20-times Grand Slam champion was competing in only his sixth match in 17 months following knee surgery and suggested after the third-round clash that he could preserve himself for Wimbledon which begins on June 28.
Asked how much he would want to push himself through the whole tournament, the 39-year-old Swiss told reporters: “We go through these matches … we analyse them highly and look on what’s next and we’ll do the same tonight and tomorrow.
“Because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not, or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep pushing or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest.
“Because I don’t have the week in between here and Halle (June 14-20), like normal, to see what’s best now if you count back from Wimbledon and so forth.
“It’s just a lot going on, but having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least. Yeah, it’s definitely a different time right now for me.”
Federer, who faces Matteo Berrettini for a place in the quarter-finals where he could potentially meet world number one Novak Djokovic, said he would have liked to know he is at his best like Djokovic or holder Rafa Nadal.
“… I would prefer to be in Rafa’s or Novak’s shoes right now where they’re like, ‘I’m feeling good. If I’m playing well, I’m winning’,” Federer said.
“I don’t have that feeling right now, so for me these are all stepping stones… to something that is really important to me. It’s the season and it’s the comeback. I need matches like these, you know.”
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander paid a glowing tribute to Federer for his performance against Koepfer.
“I feel good that I saw Roger was in good enough shape to play like that,” Eurosport pundit Wilander said. “You have a lot of people say they should retire when they get a little bit old if they cannot win a Slam.
“I am of the complete opposite opinion. I absolutely love and respect Roger Federer for what he did last night. He could have easily thrown in the towel and say ‘I had a good enough practice for Wimbledon’.
“But no, he wants to win matches, I am just so impressed with him.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)