Roger Federer has dropped a bombshell at the French Open, revealing he may have already played his final match at Roland Garros.
The 39-year-old put his body through four hours of torment on Sunday morning (AEST) to move through to the fourth round with a 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5 win over Dominik Koepfer that didn’t end until 12.45am local time.
He said after the match he is now considering withdrawing from the French Open.
He said he may ultimately accept that Sunday morning’s marathon win may actually be the right way for him to say goodbye to the Paris clay.
“Every match here or Geneva I have to reassess the situation after the match and see in the morning how I wake up and how does the knee feel the next morning. So from that standpoint it always goes like that. There is no difference after a match like this”
The 20-time Grand Slam title winner, who underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, and is playing only his third tournament since last year’s Australian Open, has always said Wimbledon is his priority this year.
He is chasing a ninth title at Wimbledon which starts on June 28. He is also scheduled to play the warm-up grass court tournament in Halle beginning on June 14, the day after the French Open ends.
He is just two months shy of his 40th birthday and is due to play Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in Monday night’s fourth round.
A dream quarter-final showdown with Novak Djokovic likely awaits.
The ridiculous decision to play night session matches — as part of a new TV broadcast deal — beginning from 9pm (local time) has been under fire all week, but the indignation of Federer, 39, perhaps playing his final ever match at Roland Garros in front of an empty stadium pushing towards 1am was simply too much.
The French Open launched night sessions for the first time this year, reserving the day’s top match for primetime audiences as part of a new broadcasting deal, but a nationwide curfew is giving organisers an almighty scheduling headache.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is in the first of a three-year contract with Amazon Prime Video that requires it to program the main match in the evening, when it is exclusively broadcast in France on the streaming platform, tournament director Guy Forget told AFP.
However, the streaming of sports events in France is in its nascent stages, and because of the 9pm curfew, organisers are forced to empty the stands around 8.30pm, leaving these top-of-the-bill matches to be played in the shadows.
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions on June 9 will enable 5,000 spectators to attend the first men’s quarter-final, but it will be the only one of 10 evening sessions to feature supporters.