Mats Wilander and Andy Murray marveled at Roger Federer's fighting spirit following the Swiss' remarkable win over Germany's Dominik Koepfer in the third round of the 2021 Roland Garros on Saturday.
Roger Federer won the opening set against Koepfer but was visibly struggling to find any motivation and at times looked quite fatigued. The German responded by winning the second set and breaking early in the third to move to a 4-2 lead.
But Federer dug extremely deep to come through in four sets and book a fourth-round meeting with Matteo Berrettini.
Mats Wilander, a three-time champion in Paris, said he "loves and respects" Roger Federer for not giving up against Koepfer despite clearly struggling.
“I absolutely love and respect Roger Federer for what he did last night," Wilander said. "He could have easily thrown in the towel and said ‘you know what, I’ve had good enough practice for Wimbledon."
Wilander said Roger Federer's three-and-a-half hour tussle with the German bodes well for his Grand Slam aspirations.
“I feel good now that I’ve seen he is in good enough shape to do that (play long),” Wilander told Eurosport UK. You have a lot of people who say maybe they (the players) should retire when they get a bit older and they can’t win a Slam. And I’m the complete opposite opinion. But no, he wants to win matches and I’m so impressed with him.”
Roger Federer getting fired up is inspirational to me: Andy Murray
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, who has struggled in the past few years with injuries, also showered praise on his long-time rival Roger Federer. The Brit took to Twitter to hail Federer's fighting spirit as the Swiss battled it out in an empty stadium.
"I'm not bothered by the outcome of this match at all," Murray tweeted. "Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of 2 knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12.30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you (love)."
Roger Federer responded to Murray's tweet on Sunday morning, expressing his gratitude to the Brit for his kind words.
"Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it. See you on the (grasscourts)," Federer tweeted.
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