Roger Federer dazzles on return to Grand Slam action

31 May 2021 - 20:13 By REUTERS
Roger Federer was playing in cruise control throughout the one-sided contest.
Roger Federer was playing in cruise control throughout the one-sided contest.
Image: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Roger Federer marked his return to the Grand Slam arena in dazzling fashion with a 6-2 6-4 6-3 first-round defeat of qualifier Denis Istomin at the French Open on Monday.

The 39-year-old Swiss had not played a Grand Slam match since the 2020 Australian Open and had managed only one clay court match in the build-up to Roland Garros. But any doubts about his condition were erased as he outclassed Istomin with a consummate display.

Federer went through his usual repertoire of shot-making, including a string of early drop shots, and was playing in cruise control throughout the one-sided contest.

He was applauded warmly by the small Philippe Chatrier crowd who thoroughly enjoyed his 93-minute exhibition.

Swiss Federer, tied with Rafa Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles, missed last year’s French Open because of a knee injury and is appearing at Roland Garros for only the second time since 2015.

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu became the highest women’s seed to fall at the French Open so far as she lost a three-hour marathon match against Timara Zidansek in the first round on Monday.

The former US Open champion, seeded sixth, went down 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 to the Slovenian.

Canadian Andreescu, 20, served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set but Zidansek broke back before missing a match point of her own in a gripping finale.

Andreescu found herself in trouble again serving at 7-8 and this time was unable to dig her way out of trouble with world number 85 Zidansek winning in three hours and 20 minutes.

While on paper it was a shock, Andreescu was playing at only her third Tour-level clay court tournament and her lack of experience on the surface ultimately proved decisive.

The women’s draw lost another big name when former French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens fell at the first hurdle, losing 6-1 3-6 6-4 to another Slovenian Polona Hercog.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up who is seeded 20th this year, managed to avoid an early exit, battling back from a set down to beat Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-0.

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