Returning to Roland Garros after a two-year absence, 20-time Major winner Roger Federer will play Denis Istomin in the first round, aiming for his eighth victory against the Uzbek in as many encounters. Roger will be playing only his fourth match since the Australian Open last year, after suffering a knee condition that necessitated two operations in February and May of last year, as well as a lengthy recuperation.
Federer returned to the court in March after a 13-month absence, appearing in the ATP 250 tournament in Doha and defeating Daniel Evans before squandering a match chance against Nikoloz Basilashvili. After a two-month layoff, Federer returned to the court two weeks ago for the ATP 250 Geneva Open, where he played well against Pablo Andujar in sets two and three before losing a 4-2 lead in the finale to fall short.
Federer, who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in 2019, will want to extend his run in Paris and generate momentum ahead of Halle and Wimbledon, where he would want to be a championship candidate. Roger will meet Denis Istomin in the first round at Roland Garros, embracing his 422nd match in Majors and aiming for a solid start and his second triumph in the last 16 months!
Roger and Denis have met seven times, and the Swiss has yet to lose to the Uzbek. In the first round of the Roland Garros tournament, Roger Federer will face Denis Istomin. Roger dropped seven games against Denis in the Australian Open in 2006, winning in under an hour and a half and not playing against Istomin again until Cincinnati in 2010.
The Uzbek retired in the first set in Ohio, but Roger defeated him in straight sets two years later in the London Olympics. Federer faced Istomin at his home ATP 500 tournament in Basel in 2013 and 2014, and had to fight hard to come out on top, erasing a set deficit in both sets to remain undefeated in their rivalry.
Their seventh meeting was in the Australian Open two years ago, when Federer won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to get to the second round. Starting the record-breaking 20th Australian Open season, world no. 3 claimed the 95th victory at Melbourne Park and the 340th in Majors, playing brilliantly on both serve and return to leave Istomin in the dust and begin the title defense in style.
Federer smashed 14 aces and never faced a break point, imposing his skills and attacking from his comfort zone to take the ball early and controlling the tempo of the exchanges. The Swiss, on the other hand, took over 40% of the return points, gaining one break in each set to dominate the scoreboard and close the deal in under two hours.
Their forthcoming Roland Garros match will be their first on clay, and it will be intriguing to watch who comes out on top.