Federer: "Whether its the semis or the finals, we're all in the same tournament"

He may not be the top favourite, but he is certainly the man to beat on the "other" side of the brackets. 2009 champion Roger Federer managed to escape the "half of death" when the draw was made on Friday morning, but that was no reason for him to get carried away with his chances of a second French Open success and 18th Grand Slam title.

"Clearly having Rafa in Novak's section is the biggest news," he said during his "media day" stint on Friday. "But you don't want to disrespect all the players that are in between those two. We the players are very careful, because there are tour professionals that are unbelievable players, and they get forgotten in the process, which I think is a bit of a pity."

"Nadal and Djokovic are not on my side of the draw, but they are, because at the end of the day we are all playing the same tournament. Whether it's in the semis or in the finals, if you lose, you lose at one point or another. So my objective is to not lose. I may not play these players right away, but I may have to play them later. It will be interesting to see Rafa play Novak. Rafa is very difficult to beat. Except for Soderling, I don't really know who else can do it."

With so many players in with a genuine chance of going deep in the tournament this year, court conditions will play a critical role throughout the fortnight. "When it's a little slower it's better for Nadal," the 33-year-old Swiss explained. "That way he is even less impressed by big servers. The same thing is true of me. Typically we play more on the baseline. That's where he's really strong physically, and mentally he knows how to find the right angles. With five sets he has even more leeway and margin and the confidence that no one else has here at Roland Garros. I think the players are fully aware of this, but of course every single time he's back he has to prove it again. His record is very incredible."

Talk moved to Nadal's low (by his standards) ranking of No.7 and seeding of No.6 (due to the withdrawal of Milos Raonic), but for Federer, changing the seedings to reflect Nadal's dominance at Roland Garros over the past decade is "the wrong debate. I don't think it was going to be bad for Rafa because he's looking at defending his title whoever he has to play through. It's going to affect Novak more in my opinion."

And while Rafa and Novak are battling away in the top half, Roger will be bidding to tip-toe his way through the bottom half, with no pitfalls in his side of the draw until the likes of Gael Monfils in the fourth round and compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the quarters. With a 61-15 record at Roland Garros, Federer has the second most wins here (behind Nadal, who is 66-1). It would take quite an upset for him to overtake Nadal, but few would bet against him getting into the late 60s by the end of the fortnight.

Date: 22nd May 2015, Source: Roland Garros


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