Federer looked good as ever
In the three years he was absent from the French Open, Federer reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2016, won the title in 2017 and last summer, reached the quarter-finals, edged out 13-11 in the final set by Kevin Anderson.
But momentum and confidence are so important to every player, and Federer’s victory over John Isner in the final of the Miami Masters on Sunday has put him in rude health going into the clay-court season. His 28th Masters 1000 title gave him 101 titles overall and he is now No 1 in the ATP Race, the calendar year rankings.
Federer looked as good as ever in Miami, crushing Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals and then destroying John Isner in the final. Though Isner was struggling with a foot injury as the match wore on, Federer won 20 out of 20 points on first serve, numbers that make him virtually impossible to beat, no matter what the surface.
The second best clay-courter in the world
It is 10 years since Federer won his only French Open title to date, finally getting over the line after being battered by Rafael Nadal in each of the three previous years. In those days, Federer was the second best clay-courter in the world and it should be noted that he has lost just once before the quarter-finals since 2004.
And still, no one will expect much from Federer on clay this year, especially as he has not played on the surface, competitively, since 2016. Though Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be the big favourites in Paris, and Dominic Thiem will fancy his chances, Federer can just go about his business, swing free and see what happens.
"What this win does for me is it just takes even more pressure off from the clay-court season,” Federer said. “That's what I'm looking at now the next four or five weeks, figuring out how we are going to go about it. I'm very excited. It's a good challenge, a good test."