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On the face of things, Roger Federer often seems as placid as Lake Geneva. Yet passion burns beneath. In Paris, Federer brought out his inner streetfighter as he subdued the former US Open champion Marin Cilic in four sets.
This match hinged around a testy three-way exchange – involving both players as well as the chair umpire – which blew up after Cilic had accused Federer of delaying the game. Initially frustrated, Federer dropped the second set shortly afterwards, but soon gathered himself and channelled his irritation into success.
The first half-hour had delivered little hint of the drama to come. Instead, the early stages of this match felt like an exhibition, as Federer raced to a 6-1 lead with some exquisite play. He neutralised one booming Cilic serve with a delicate backhand drop-shot that died just over the net, like a judoka using his opponent’s power against him.
But Cilic then raised his game, while simultaneously introducing a little spice to what had previously been a bland but charming affair. The subplot started at the first changeover of the second set. Cilic made a complaint to chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph, saying that he was arriving at the service line and then having to wait for Federer, who was usually towelling off at the side of the court.
When the same thing happened again, with Cilic leading 3-1, Joseph gave Federer a time violation. This did not go down well. As Federer explained later, he had already become frustrated with Cilic’s obsessive habit of bouncing the ball ten times or more before finally committing to his serve.
As Federer put it in the interview room, “I'm not in the mood to stand there and just be, ‘Here I am so you can get ready.’ Start bouncing already, and I will rock up when I feel like I'm ready to go.”
So it was that Federer found himself standing at the net, in a single teapot position with one hand on his hip, and arguing with Joseph for at least a couple of minutes. As ITV host John Inverdale pointed out, this was not the sort of behaviour that the world No80 would have got away with. But Federer is the unofficial emperor of tennis, and now he called Cilic up to the net like a judge summoning a witness to the stand.
“Am I playing too slow?” Federer asked in English. Initially reluctant to step forward, Cilic eventually mumbled something about how the game is supposed to be played at the server’s pace. “I understand the rule,” Federer replied with feeling.
“On a few occasions I was waiting for you,” Cilic stammered, looking rather like a schoolboy summoned to the headmaster’s office. To which Federer replied “I understand, but I'm going from one corner to the next, trying to get my towel back. I'm not even doing it on purpose.”
So it was that the set finally resumed, and did so with real feeling. Federer won the next point with a fine backhand drive, and let out a mighty roar. He couldn’t stop Cilic from seizing that second set, but he soon re-established his advantage with relentless serving and some rasping forehand winners.
“When thing were looking dangerous for me, I was able to step up a gear, stay with him, and then pull away from him,” said Federer after his 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 win. “I think that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Despite Cilic’s complaints about stalling, the match still whizzed past in 2hr 35min. This was speedy for a four-setter, and should keep some energy in Federer’s 39-year-old legs as he prepares to face Dominik Koepfer – the German nicknamed “Pitbull” – in Saturday's third round.
Federer also claimed to have enjoyed the “energy” supplied by the altercation, even though he felt that the whole situation was bizarre. “I guess I'm just new to the new tour,” he said, in reference to the fact that players can no longer ask ballboys and ballgirls to bring their towels to them, as used to be the convention before the pandemic.
If nothing else, the incident reminded us that Federer’s competitive instinct is hugely underestimated. Even if he rarely shows flashes of temper, you don’t rack up almost 1,250 professional wins without a bit of mongrel.
Meanwhile, world No1 Novak Djokovic also became involved in a fiery exchange with the chair umpire as he faced Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay on Court Suzanne Lenglen. In Djokovic’s case, he was annoyed about an unruly fan who kept shouting out at inopportune moments. But he was never in any trouble on the court, eventually easing through by a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 scoreline.
Djokovic will face Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania on Saturday, in the knowledge that a mouthwatering quarter-final collision with Federer remains a distinct possibility.
'Heartbroken' Ashleigh Barty exits French Open
By Simon Briggs
After pulling out of the French Open, world No 1 Ashleigh Barty admitted that it has been a tearful few days. Her left hip flared up at the weekend, and her movement was so restricted against Magda Linette that she was forced to abandon this second-round match early in the second set.
“It's heartbreaking,” said an emotional Barty in the interview room. “We have had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with timing more than anything, to have something acute happen over the weekend and just run out of time against the clock, is disappointing.
“it was a small miracle that we were able to get on court for that first round [which she won on Monday against Bernarda Pera]. Today it was no better and getting worse again. I've had my fair share of tears this week. It's all good. Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually. Once I find out what that is, it'll make me feel a little bit better.”
Linette is a tough competitor, and she exploited Barty’s immobility with ruthless effect, taking the first set by a 6-1 margin. Barty then left the court for a medical time-out, but only played four more games before shoving her racket back into her bag and shaking hands. The withdrawal ended her eight-match winning streak at Roland Garros, where she had won the title in 2019 before sitting out last year’s event because of the pandemic.
“It had nothing to do with [training] loads or anything like that,” said Barty, when asked about her injury. “As far as we can tell, it was literally acute, landing on serve one day, and that's all. Yeah, it was brutal and tough to accept.
“It’s something that I've never experienced before. Even chatting with my physio, it’s not something she has seen regularly either. So we've been consulting with people all over the world to try and give us some insight into what the best ways to manage it are. I'm confident we do have a plan. It's just that we ran out of time here.”
Barty’s withdrawal leaves fifth seed Elina Svitolina – who beat the USA’s Ann Li by a 6-0, 6-4 scoreline – as the highest-ranked player in the top quarter of the draw. It also gives her more than three weeks to rest, recuperate and treat that unhappy hip joint before Wimbledon.
Norrie maintains impressive clay-court form
By Simon Briggs
When Cameron Norrie first popped up on the tour, four years ago, he came across more like a surfer than a tennis pro. He had highlights in his hair, a laidback manner, and a habit of using words like “sick” or “stoked” in an approving manner.
So it was quite the surprise to hear – after Norrie’s superb second-round victory at the French Open – that he now considers himself to be “very businesslike like I'm the CEO of a company.”
Despite his apparently carefree nature, Norrie always had an excellent work ethic – and that is a recurring theme in every tennis success story. There are no shortcuts in this gruelling sport.
But while he may have trained hard in the past, it has taken Norrie a few seasons to work out how best to maximise his gifts. These are – in order of precedence – a remarkable set of lungs, a heavily top-spun forehand, and a curiously flat backhand which he hits in the manner of Jimmy Connors.
Against Lloyd Harris on Thursday, Norrie was almost note-perfect in the way he deployed these assets. Admittedly, Harris – who is a big-serving South African – was able to break early before going on to claim the first set. But Norrie was unfazed, and responded by upping his work-rate slightly from the back of the court.
For the next hour and three-quarters, he barely missed a ball. Instead, he ground Harris down with his athleticism and regular use of the favourite lefty tactic which has been perfected by Rafael Nadal – the heavy, looping forehand that bounces up at the right-hander’s backhand like a grenade.
“There's no secrets out there,” said Norrie after his 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory. “Just keep working hard, keep training every day. I think the biggest thing is I'm attacking tennis in all aspects, taking it to a different level professionally and making it very businesslike, like I'm the CEO of a company.
“I haven't changed anything drastically. I don't think I'm playing out of this world,” added Norrie, whose ranking will now climb inside the top 40 for the first time. “I just think I'm doing a lot of fundamentals well and that’s paying off.”
This is the third time in four majors that Norrie has reached the last 32. On each occasion, he has outlasted the rest of the British contingent. Here in Paris, he has also outlasted all 28 Frenchmen and women. There is no home player in the third round for the first time in the history of this event.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 Cilic*
Great movement by Federer to chase down a Cilic forehand and pass him, 15-15.
Cilic forehand into the net, two match points. Cilic saves the first with a forehand winner.
Cilic backhand long. Federer wins. Nice embrace at the net. Their little row long forgotten.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 5-2 Cilic
Federer ace, 30-0. Wow. Federer with a filthy slice winner, 40-0. And Federer holds again.
He's one game away now.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 4-2 Cilic*
Cilic ace, 15-15. And he holds to 15. He now needs to get to work on breaking Federer again if he wants to stay in the match.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 4-1 Cilic
Federer is cruising right now and Cilic is looking low on confidence. The Swiss eases to 40-0.
And gets the job done to 15.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 3-1 Cilic*
Federer backhand return winner, 0-30. But Cilic responds and hits a forehand winner, 30-30.
Federer backhand volley winner, break point. Cilic double fault, Federer breaks. Was the Croat put off by Federer's change of return position? Maybe. More importantly, Federer is back in control.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 2-1 Cilic
A more straight forward hold for the Swiss.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 1-1 Cilic*
Love hold for Cilic.
Fourth set: Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 1-0 Cilic
Federer shanks a backhand and is taken to deuce. He holds after a bit of a struggle.
After so long without playing, this intense workout will be good for Federer's rehabilitation.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 Cilic - TIEBREAK
Cilic ace, 0-1. Federer forehand winner, 1-1. Federer ace, 2-1. Cilic double fault, 3-1. Cilic ace, 3-2. Federer unreturned serve, 4-2.
Cilic return wide, 5-2. Cilic unreturned serve, 5-3. Big Cilic serve down the T, 5-4. Cilic forehand into the net, 6-4. Federer ace, 7-4.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 6-6 Cilic
Federer ace to start the game then a forehand winner, 30-0. Cilic goes long with a return, 40-0.
And a return into the net gifts Federer the game and takes us into a tiebreak.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 5-6 Cilic*
Cilic guarantees himself a tiebreak with another love hold. Can federer join him?
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 5-5 Cilic
Pressure? What pressure? Federer moves to 40-0 with a gorgeous backhand drop shot and then a forehand winner.
Still on serve.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 4-5 Cilic*
A fist pump from Cilic as he now holds to love. Big pressure on Federer now.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 4-4 Cilic
A quick and much needed service hold by Federer. Crunch time in the set right now.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 3-4 Cilic*
Cilic has won 13 of the 16 points to regain the lead in this match. Amazing turnaround.
Federer needs to respond fast.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 3-3 Cilic
Federer forehand wide after being rushed by Cilic. And he breaks after attacking Federer's second serve again.
Federer was one shot away from a double break and now the set is level.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 3-2 Cilic*
Cilic's level has dropped and Federer is in complete control. He gets three break points and misses an easy forehand on his first.
Cilic hits a forehand winner on the second. And then the third with a big serve that's unreturned.
Cilic tries a drop shot and fails. Break point Federer. Cilic saves it with a forehand winner.
And Cilic stays just one break behind. How costly will that forehand miss be?
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 3-1 Cilic
Showtime stuff from Federer as he hits a forehand winner and ace to move to 40-0.
A quick hold is completed and break consolidated.
Federer 6-2, 2-6, 2-1 Cilic*
Chance for Federer as Cilic's backhand clips the net and flies wide, 0-30. Cilic shanks a forehand, three break points.
Cilic saves the first with a forehand winner. Federer then shanks a backhand. Big point coming up.
Federer backhand winner down the line. Break.
Federer* 6-2, 2-6, 1-1 Cilic
Big time hitting from Cilic right now. Overpowering Federer, who has no answer at the moment.
Federer does hit a backhand winner down the line to make it 30-30. And a big unreturned serve makes it 40-30. But another piercing return by Cilic forces an error. Deuce.
Good save from 15-30 by Federer to hold.
Third set: Federer 6-2, 2-6, 0-1 Cilic*
Ideal start to the set for Cilic as he races to 40-0. But a backhand error and a double fault makes it deuce.
Cilic does come through eventually to hold.
*Federer 6-2, 2-6 Cilic
Pressure on Federer as he nets a backhand, 0-30. Federer goes wide with a forehand, two set points for Cilic.
Another Federer error and Cilic levels the match. Only one man kept their focus in that set.
Federer 6-2, 2-5 Cilic*
Federer is still a bit chippy and it will be interesting to see if Cilic can manage this emotional situation.
Stunning angled forehand winner by Cilic, 40-15. He then nets a backhand. And completes another good hold. He's a game away from the set.
*Federer 6-2, 2-4 Cilic
Federer forehand winner, 15-15 and an ace to finish.
Federer 6-2, 1-4 Cilic*
Cilic goes too big with a forehand, 15-30. Deep Federer return catches out Cilic and earns two break points.
Big first serve by Cilic to save the first break point. Then Federer nets a defensive backhand. Deuce.
Amazing moment. Federer is handed a time violation for taking too long and is not happy. He has an extended conversation with the umpire in French saying he was doing what he's always done. A reminder that in this post pandemic world players have to get their own towels now.
Cilic keeps his nerve and holds.
*Federer 6-2, 1-3 Cilic
Federer forehand on the run goes wide, 15-30. He then puts a backhand long, two more break points.
Federer saves the first with a forehand winner down the line. Then hits an ace down the T. Vintage stuff from the Swiss.
An escape from 15-40 down as he holds. Two breaks down would have been a long road back.
Federer 6-2, 0-3 Cilic*
Cilic nets a backhand, 15-30. But he recovers and holds with some big serving. Long way back for Federer in this set.
*Federer 6-2, 0-2 Cilic
Federer nets a backhand, 15-30. Then a forehand, two break points for Cilic. Federer saves the first with a forehand winner. But not the second as Cilic goes on the attack with his forehand and draws the error. Game on.
Second set: Federer 6-2, 0-1 Cilic*
Cilic is ranked 47 in the world but he is better than that. He moves 40-0 ahead but a double fault makes it 40-30.
Cilic nets a forehand, deuce. Another double fault gives Federer a break point. Big shot by Cilic on his forehand side, deuce.
After a struggle, Cilic holds. Could be an important game.
Federer* 6-2 Cilic
Backhand winner down the line to start the game. Then an ace, 30-0.
Another ace gives him three set points. And a glorius backhand down the line helps him to the set.
Federer 5-2 Cilic*
Oh my goodness. Outrageous drop shot return winner by Federer. Cilic barely even moved, 30-15.
Credit to Cilic, he hits back with back-to-back aces to stop Federer's streak.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021
Federer* 5-1 Cilic
Federer's full repertoire is on show but Cilic earns a break point as the Swiss doesn't do enough with a drop shot and is punished.
Federer finds his first serve to save the break point then hits an ace, his third of the match.
And he holds when Cilic's backhand return flies long. Five games in a row.
Congratulations to Cameron Norrie who has completed a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over South Africa's Lloyd Harris.
Meanwhile, Djokovic has taken the first set against Cuevas 6-3.
Federer 4-1 Cilic*
A forehand into the net by Cilic puts him 0-30 down. Cilic responds with a forehand winner down the line.
But Federer brings up two break points with a lovely flicked backhand winner. Cilic then drills a backhand long and that's the double break. Impressive start.
Federer* 3-1 Cilic
Double fault by Federer now, 15-30. Cilic then nets a forehand.
Federer consolidates the break to maintain his lead and his first serve is yet to really get going.
Federer 2-1 Cilic*
Double fault by Cilic, his first of the tournament, gifts Federer a break point. And he breaks at the first attempt as Cilic nets a backhand.
Federer* 1-1 Cilic
Cilic goes on the attack on Federer's second serve and is getting some joy with powerful hitting. Federer goes 40-0 up and is pegged back to deuce.
Break point Cilic as a Federer forehand goes wide after a big return to his feet. Relief for Federer as Cilic frames a forehand wide. And the Swiss survives.
First set: Roger Federer 0-1 Marin Cilic* (*denotes server)
Cilic won the toss and will serve first. The Croatian then holds to love.
Federer vs Cilic
With Norrie looking in control of his match we will turn our attention to the 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer.
The Swiss faces Marin Cilic in the second round.
Djokovic bounces back
Djokovic wins back-to-back games to respond after being broken by Cuevas.
The top seed leads 3-2.
Norrie wins the third set 6-3 to lead Lloyd Harris two sets to one. Hugely impressive stuff. If he completes victory here a match with Rafael Nadal could be on the cards.
The world No 1 enters the fray
A treat for fans on Suzanne Lenglen as Novak Djokovic strides onto court to face Pablo Cuevas in the second round.
Don’t EVER count him out.
In his 65th major and his 17th straight #RolandGarros, Philipp Kohlschreiber has upset No.24 seed Karatsev 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1 to book a spot in R3 here for the first time since 2014. #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/WWCXFxJZOB
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021
Norrie momentum continues
Norrie in full control now. He's worked out his opponent and taken control of the match.
He breaks to lead 2-1 in the third set.
Ymer serves out the match to overcome Monfils and end hopes of a French winner.
While Norrie also serves out the set against Harris, winning it 6-3. Into a third a set we go.
Ymer and Norrie both serving for the set in their matches
Monfils is at it again
The Frenchman gets one of the breaks back as Ymer gets tight on his serve.
He can't come back surely?
Monfils in trouble
The end is nigh for Monfils. Ymer is now serving for the match at 5-1 in the fourth set.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021
Norrie fights back
Good solid tennis from Norrie and careless errors from Harris sees the former break and lead 4-1.
Impressive turnaround from the first set.
Big result for Sloane Stephens as she completes a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Pliskova.
Stephens, a finalist in 2018, will play Muchova next.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2021
Stephens in control
Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova is on the brink of a second round exit. Sloane Stephens leads 7-5, 4-1 on Philippe Chatrier.
Roger Federer will follow that match.
Harris wins first set
A consistent set for Harris is rewarded with the opening set as he serves it out to love.
This won't be easy for Norrie.
Monfils drops third set
Monfils had led by a break but Ymer fought back to win four games in a row and claim the set 6-4.
Uphill task now for Monfils given he's not 100 per cent fit
Important hold for Norrie as he serves out to 15 and stay within touching distance of Harris at 5-4.
Needs to break in the next game to stay in the set.
Norrie in a battle
Harris saves a break point to hang onto his serve and lead 4-2 with a break.
Work to do for Norrie.
Last Brit standing
We are going to take a slight detour from watching Monfils to Cameron Norrie, who is the only British player left in the singles draw.
Norrie is playing South Africa's Lloyd Harris.
45 minutes ago Monfils looked like he couldn't move and would have to retire.
But he's now claimed the second set 6-2 in convincing fashion. Ymer had no real idea how to respond to Monfils' comeback.
Injury? What injury?
Monfils now leads 5-1 as he continues to blast his way around Suzanne Lenglen.
Seemingly a miraculous recovery from the Frenchman.
Completed matches so far today
Men's Singles - Second Round
Matteo Berrettini (9), Italy, def. Federico Coria, Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Women's Singles - Second Round
Elena Vesnina, Russia, def. Petra Kvitova (11), Czech Republic, walkover.
Ons Jabeur (25), Tunisia, def. Astra Sharma, Australia, 6-2, 6-4.
Elina Svitolina (5), Ukraine, def. Ann Li, United States, 6-0, 6-4.
Jessica Pegula (28), United States, def. Tereza Martincova, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3.
Sofia Kenin (4), United States, def. Hailey Baptiste, United States, 7-5, 6-3.
Karolina Muchova (18), Czech Republic, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, 6-3, 6-4.
Marta Kostyuk, Ukraine, def. Zheng Saisai, China, 6-3, 6-4.
Magda Linette, Poland, def. Ashleigh Barty (1), Australia, 6-1, 2-2, ret.
Monfils battles on
Whatever the physio did during the break has worked because Monfils is a different player.
He's broken Ymer and is swinging freely although the speed on his serve has dropped.
The Frenchman leads 2-1.
Monfils does return to court and wins the opening point to the delight of the French fans.
But will it be a short-lived reprieve?
More injury woe
Hometown hero Gael Monfils has struggled with form and confidence over the past 12 months.
And it seems injury is about to end his Roland Garros dreams for another year.
Monfils has lost the first set to Mikael Ymer 6-0 and left the court for a medical timeout after barely being able to move.
We await to see whether he can continue.
Just as I join you, we've had our first major upset of the day and 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty is out.
She had been struggling with injury coming into the tournament and needed treatment on Tuesday to get through her first round match.
But against Magda Linette, the world No 1 lost the first set 6-1 and once again required treatment. However, after just four games Barty put down her racket and retired from the match.
Hello and welcome to coverage from day five of the French Open.
Today has all the makings of being a blockbuster day with the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to come and the last Brit standing Cameron Norrie on the due on court.
It has been a dramatic few days in Paris with Naomi Osaka's shock withdrawal from the event. A number of other seeds have tumbled out of the draw but yesterday world No 2 Daniil Medvedev fought back from a set down to beat unseeded American Tommy Paul and advance to the third round, his best showing at Roland Garros after being knocked out in the first round of the tournament in the four previous years.
Meanwhile, seventh seed Serena Williams was pushed the distance but beat Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 to move into the third round.
Speaking on Eurosport, 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert felt Williams is playing herself into form.
She said: "One thing you can still say about Serena is that she always steps it up a level on the big points. She hasn't forgotten about the ebbs and flows of a match, when she has to turn it on, when she needs to focus a little more. Buzarnescu lost a lot of break points, the big points, because Serena just came on top and she hasn't lost that instinct to play well when there is danger.
"Serena is coming back pretty quickly - before this tournament she only had three matches. She's looking better and better, moving smoother on the clay, and she's being patient.
"In the next match against Danielle Collins, look for fireworks because this is a feisty young player. Danielle has come on strong, she hits the ball hard and flat and you will feel her presence on court. It will match Serena Williams - they are both strong-minded and we could have a clash of the titans in that match. I'm really looking forward to it."