"Very special time in tennis" says Federer

Roger Federer, the 2009 titlist and 16-time major champion, challenges Germany's Tobias Kamke in the first round. He could overtake Jimmy Connors' 233-49 record for most Open Era Grand Slam match wins if he advances to the third round. The Swiss, appearing at his 50th successive major, is currently 232-35 overall. He has a 49-12 lifetime mark at Roland Garros. Federer may face No. 28 seed Andy Roddick in the third round, No. 15 seed Feliciano Lopez in the Last 16 and either No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych or No. 9 seed and recent Estoril Open titlist Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.

Federer, who turned 30 on 8 August 2011, is looking to become the 11th different man aged 30 or over to win a Grand Slam title since 1968. The last man to win a major title aged over 30 was Andre Agassi, who was 32 years 272 days old when he won the 2003 Australian Open. Andres Gomez was the last man to win Roland Garros aged over 30, when he won the 1990 title aged 30 years 103 days.

The Swiss could snatch a record 17th grand-slam crown on the Paris clay, while Nadal wants to secure a record seventh French title and world number one Djokovic hopes to become the first man in 43 years to win the four major titles in a row.

"Well, I think at the moment it's quite incredible. I can't see one player not playing well at the moment, finding things difficult," world number three Federer, who won his only French Open title in 2009, told a news conference on Friday.

"Some say two play well, one plays slightly less well, but the three play very well all along."

"But Novak deserves it. Nadal, too. It's true that we're going through a very special time in tennis."

The Roger v Rafa duel has turned into a three-way rivalry with Djokovic taking over as world number one. What now what stands between Djokovic and greatness is the Spaniard's dominance on clay.

"It's an amazing achievement in itself to win three (grand-slam events) in a row. Four in a row is just another amazing step," said Federer.

"I think the toughest part is the very end, the back end of it. I've been there twice, I think. I was twice in the finals, twice a couple of sets away."

"I was playing Rafa here, which doesn't make it a whole lot easier. But it's easier to maybe start with the French in this era and then finishing it on the hard court."

According to Federer, who lost to him four times in the Paris final, Nadal is the favorite for the claycourt tournament starting on Sunday.

"I think Rafael playing for his seventh title is the favorite. I think he lost only two sets between Rome, Monte Carlo and Barcelona, so that's a pretty good start."

"Then he's playing for his seventh title, so no discussion. We're crazy to even talk about this. Some people might say he's not the favorite, but to me he's the favorite."

"I played him so many times here. I know how incredible he can be here in Roland Garros."

Date: 25.05.2012, Source: Reuters and ATP


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