Roger Federer managed to overcome Marin Cilic in a fiery and entertaining second-round clash at the 2021 French Open.
The eighth seed, who has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, had to be at his very best to swat aside Cilic, who took the second set 6-2 and put up a real battle.
The eighth seed won in two hours and 35 minutes in a match that had some mid-match tension amid all the fine play with an unusual row over Federer taking time to get his towel in between points.
Federer had a lengthy exchange with the umpire when 3-1 down in the second set after Cilic had apparently complained over the time being taken to get towels at the back of the court between points.
After the long discussion with the official at the net in French, which at times got pretty heated, Federer then questioned Cilic himself about the situation.
“Am I playing too slow?!” he asked Cilic while standing at the net, turning away from the umpire.
“Am I playing too slow?! No, no, I understand the rule…
Cilic replied: “You were not playing too slow but, on a few occasions, I was waiting for you!”
Federer shot back: “I understand. But I am going from one corner to the next, trying to get my towel. I’m not even doing it on purpose!”
Cilic replied again: “That’s fine but, I mean, you’re playing like this all the time…”
At that point, Federer turned and walked back to the baseline, clearly not overly happy with the exchange, but proceeded to channel his frustration at the incident into positive play as he went on to win the next two sets.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer have all found themselves in the same part of the men’s draw in what is an intriguing prospect.
The draw looks particularly exciting for Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev with the trio not having to face any of the ‘Big Three’ until the final at least.
Djokovic could take on Nadal in the semi-finals in Paris in what would be a repeat from last year’s final in the postponed autumnal edition.
The three most successful players in the history of the men’s game have won 17 of the last 20 Grand Slam titles between them.