Happy to be an 'outsider'
Federer is 23-3 win-loss this season and has picked up two titles, in Dubai and Miami, from three finals reached, yet he feels he comes to Roland-Garros as an "outsider" with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem considered the top three favourites for the title.
For a 20-time Grand Slam champion, not being the top contender sounds ridiculous, but he's relishing the moment either way.
"It's nice to be an outsider. That's how I feel, anyhow. Just see how it goes. I know when Wimbledon comes around, sure, I'll be probably a higher favourite," said Federer, who has a record eight Wimbledon crowns.
"That's okay, too. I'm happy that I'm there where I am. For many years it was either, if I don't win, it's a disappointment, and you explain yourself in the press room. People, like, don't understand why you lost. And so I feel like if I lost first round or in the finals or wherever it is, people would be, like, 'Okay, that could have happened'.
"I like that approach for me also once in a while. It relaxes you on the bigger points maybe or it relaxes you subconsciously as you walk through the grounds and go to practice and go to the press room. This is not a show I'm putting on. This is the truth. I really don't know how far I can go in this event, and I am very happy with my first round. It was a really good performance, I thought, from my side for not having played here for as long as I did."
Federer told press after his match that he was pleased with how he played, and was impressed by Sonego, whom he had never played before. Sonego reached the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters as a qualifier last month and hit a career-high ranking of 66 soon after.
"I thought he's fast on his feet, has a nice forehand, good first serve, so I see why he can be very dangerous for a lot of guys on the court, regardless of clay or other surfaces. I thought he was strong today under the circumstances of a first round of a major like this with a full crowd. I think he did very well," said the Swiss of the 24-year-old Sonego.