French Open: Roger Federer storms second round at Roland Garros with vintage display | Tennis news


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Federer advanced to the second round with a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win over Denis Istomin, in just his second appearance at Roland Garros since 2015; Swiss icon could face former US Open champion Marin Cilic in second round

Last updated: 31/05/21 18:12

Roger Federer had only his second appearance at Roland Garros since 2015

Roger Federer had only his second appearance at Roland Garros since 2015

Roger Federer marked his return to the Grand Slam action with a marked victory in direct sets over fellow veteran Denis Istomin in the opening round of the French Open.

Federer – who competed in his first Grand Slam tournament in 487 days – created a virtuoso display that prevailed 6-2 6-4 6-3 in just 93 minutes, to the delight of 1,000 fans attending Paris.

The Swiss legend started the process perfectly, interrupting Istomin’s serve in the opening game, which laid the foundations for the dominant first set.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion marked his return to the French Open with a comprehensive victory in direct sets

The 20-time Grand Slam champion marked his return to the French Open with a comprehensive victory in direct sets

The 39-year-old was unbeatable on his serve in early exchanges – he landed 18 of his first 20 serves in the opener, with a staggering 95 per cent ratio.

Federer has only scantily displayed since undergoing knee surgery last year, but the eighth seed still showed off his artistic trademark and elegance upon his return to Philippe Chatrier Court, monopolizing things off the net.

Istomin could not fight the variations in Federer’s game – the forehand cut was a particularly effective weapon for the 2009 champion, who hit 48 winners on the road to victory.

The second set was a tighter connection, although a lone service interruption in the third game was enough for Federer to double his lead, as he concluded two sets in a row with three consecutive online changes and then an ace to seal the deal.

Istomin failed to invent any opportunity on Federer’s serve, so when the unstoppable Swiss broke through the middle of the set with a crunchy forehand across the field, there was a sense of the inevitability of the outcome.

Federer, who has triumphed in all seven of his previous encounters against his Uzbek opponent, continued to dazzle with sublime blows to the ground, closing the all-out victory and reserving a spot in the second round.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who will turn 40 in August, is at the top of the draw alongside top seed Novak Djokovic and 13-year-old winner Rafael Nadal as he tries to become the first man in the open era to win every Grand Slam title twice.

However, Federer will have a task in the second round against former US Open champion Marin Cilic, who cruised next to Arthur Rinderknech in straight sets.

Elsewhere, another seed Daniil Medvedev secured his first win at Roland Garros with a 6-3 7-5 7-5 win against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

The 25-year-old Russian finished a series of four consecutive exits from the opening round on Paris clay with a win over Bublik in just under two hours, and after Dominic Thiem’s shocking exit on Sunday, there was no Grand Slam draw left in his half.

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