Roger Federer was given a serious challenge by Dominik Koepfer in their French Open third-round clash with the Swiss eventually able to close out a four-set win, 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5, late on Saturday night.
Koepfer showed his aggressive side in every sense as he bombarded Federer with big shots from the baseline and also received several warnings from the umpire and was deducted a point for spitting on his opponent’s side of the net following a marginal line call.
Despite his tantrum and point deduction, the German was still able to force Federer to work exceptionally hard right up until the end with the 20-time Grand Slam champion given a really tough evening.
When Federer did finally close out the win after three tie-breakers and three hours and 35 minutes, he cut a relieved and weary figure at close to 1am local time in Paris.
Federer would have had the spectators on their feet in the opening set, if there were any for the evening match, as he produced a round-the-net stunner to win a wild point.
It was a quite ridiculous shot from the 39-year-old eighth seed, who is aiming to win his 21st Grand Slam title in Paris this fortnight.
Indeed, it was not the first wonder shot from Federer in the contest. Earlier he produced a sumptuous drop volley to win a point in hugely impressive fashion.
The late evening slot on Court Philippe Chatrier with no fans inside the stadium always leaves a strange atmosphere and both players appeared to struggle at times to muster the energy to be at the top of their games.
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.