Chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph gave Roger Federer a time violation with the score at 6-2, 1-3, 40-40 on Cilic's serve. According to Joseph and Cilic, Federer was taking too long between points while going from one end to the other to collect his towel.
Federer, who was otherwise quick between points, lost his cool and got into a heated argument with the umpire. The exchange went on for a fair bit, with the 39-year-old repeatedly demanding an explanation from Emmanuel Joseph before finally walking away.
In that context, three-time Roland Garros champion Mats Wilander opined on Friday that Roger Federer may have been looking to take advantage of the towel rules (Note: With COVID-19 rules, players cannot be handed towels by ballkids). But in the same breath, the Swede claimed that Federer was wronged by the umpire since the Swiss was simply following the protocols.
"At 39 years old you want to take any advantage you can and he is 39," Wilander said. "But at the same time the umpire makes a big mistake there because who cares, you have to go get your own towel."
Mats Wilander further pointed out how Roger Federer never wastes time between points irrespective of the situation, which makes him really popular amongst the crowds. Wilander also claimed that Cilic may have been trying to get under Federer's skin, which in turn fired up the Swiss.
"Roger Federer plays so quick in between points, always has," Wilander said. "Never ever does he stop when there is crowd noise or anything he just keeps playing. That's why he is so popular, so yeah, big mistake. But you know what? I think it fired Roger up a little bit. Obviously he's good friends with Marin but I think Marin was trying to push him a little bit too."
If I was there doing what Roger Federer did, you would call me a grumpy old man: Mats Wilander
The 56-year-old Mats Wilander further joked that he would be called a "grumpy old man" if he did something similar to Roger Federer. But the Swede went on to assert that Federer's actions once again proved his undying passion for the sport.
"If I was there (doing what Federer did) you would call me a grumpy old man," Mats Wilander said. "But I think it really helped him and it showed how much he cares still."
Wilander also showered lavish praise on Roger Federer's overall performance against Marin Cilic.
"He is in the flow now, that was really an amazing performance in every level too - forehand, serve, drop shots, sliced backhands, coming to the net," Wilander added.
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