Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer is arguably the most successful male player in the history of the sport. However, he does not have too many pleasant memories at the State Roland Garros in Paris. Federer has just one French Open title in his 22-year-long professional career, and many painful defeats to his arch-rival Rafael Nadal.
That said, Federer has still managed to conjure his patented magic at Roland Garros from time to time. Recalling one such incident, India's Somdev Devvarman showered high praise on the Swiss great and his ability to bamboozle his opponents even on clay.
Devvarman was hosted by Indian comedian Sorabh Pant on his podcast called ‘Wake Up’, where he spoke at length about his second round match against Roger Federer at Roland Garros 2013.
Playing against Roger Federer had me ‘pumped’: Somdev Devvarman
Roger Federer endured a rather dismal season in 2013 by his standards. He had just the single semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam (Australian Open), and no ATP Masters 1000 titles that year.
Devvarmna, on the other hand, was having a pretty decent run (second round at Australian Open, third round at Miami). That led many to believe that the Indian could perhaps trouble Roger Federer on his weakest surface, as the two squared up against each other at Roland Garros.
“I was pumped because I was playing in a big court against Roger. This was also the time when everyone thought Roger Federer was getting old,” Devvarman recalled.
However, the Indian was in for a rude shock as Roger Federer regained his best tennis when they began their battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“I was reasonably quick so when players hit returns, I am usually close to retrieving it. But when this guy (Federer) was hitting a winner, it was always far away. I would be left just staring at the ball,” Devvarman admitted.
Clay is known to be the slowest of all the surfaces, but when Roger Federer times the ball to perfection it still zips away at lightning speed - as Devvarman found to his dismay.
Losing to Roger Federer was a ‘good experience’ for Devvarman
Roger Federer is known to wrong-foot his opponents by going behind them, and that tactic worked incredibly well against Devvarman. The Indian recalled with embarrassment how he was made to look like an amateur by the Maestro on the slippery surface.
“The worst thing is that it’s on clay," Devvarman said. "So you are embarrassed even more because you are just slipping and sliding all the time. I don’t think I have ever played so well and lost so badly.”
Federer would go on to win 6-2, 6-1, 6-1, marching on to the third round serenly. But while this is not exactly a score to be proud of, Devvarman still has happy memories of the match.
Losing against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic is never something to be ashamed about; after all, they are widely considered to be the three greatest players of all time. The experience gathered from matches against them is what counts, and that is what Devvarman echoed:
“It was a good experience for me. I don’t really feel bad because those players make short work of the top-20 players in the world. I was not even close.”Published 21 Jul 2020, 18:48 IST