Roger Federer outlasts German Dominik Koepfer to reach the fourth round in Paris
Roger Federer survived a soulless late-night scrap with German Dominik Koepfer to reach the fourth round of the French Open.
Roland Garros’ new night session matches are being held behind closed doors this week because of a 9pm curfew in Paris, and Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have all taken their turn playing to an empty stadium.
But the sight of tennis’ biggest superstar, who attracts sell-out crowds wherever he goes, fighting for his life in the tournament in such circumstances was particularly jarring.
Federer flies into Week 2 ✈️
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 5, 2021
Had he lost, it could well have been the saddest of farewells to an event that has loved him arguably more than any other, and that looked a distinct possibility for nearly all of the three hours and 35 minutes they were on court.
Federer searched and searched for his game, finding it in patches only for the errors to creep in again, but he eventually secured a 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 victory and a place in the last 16 against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
German Koepfer, ranked 59, was looking to reach the fourth round at a slam for just the second time having already posted his best result at Roland Garros.
Im not bothered by the outcome of this match at all. Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of 2 knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12.30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you ❤️
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) June 5, 2021
Federer ground out the first set and was twice an early break up in the second but Koepfer kept snapping at the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s heels, troubling him with the weight of his ball-striking and tenacious play.
It was Koepfer who took the set after an error-strewn tie-break from Federer, and the eighth seed was in a real hole down a break in the third set.
But he pulled it back to 4-4 and clinched the set on another tie-break – it was the first time in Federer’s long grand slam career that he had ever been involved in a match where the first three sets were decided by tie-breaks.
As the clock ticked past midnight, Federer moved a break ahead early in the fourth set only to give the advantage straight back despite Koepfer, who had earlier received a warning, being given a point penalty for spitting on a ball mark.
Koepfer’s resistance ran out when he was broken for 6-5, with Federer, who turns 40 in August, finally clinching a weary victory.
Wimbledon 2023: Men’s doubles matches to be abbreviated
The change puts Wimbledon in line with the other grand slams.
Australian Open day 10 wrap: Novak Djokovic rolls towards 10th Melbourne title
The story of the 10th day of action from Melbourne Park.
Novak Djokovic pays tribute to Roger Federer: ‘Tennis misses him
Few sports can match tennis in how great rivals can also have huge respect for one another, like how Novak Djokovic hailed Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic reaches Australian Open semi-finals after outclassing Andrey Rublev
The nine-time champion Novak Djokovic set up a clash with American Tommy Paul for a place in the final.
Tommy Paul gets better of Ben Shelton to reach Australian Open semi-final
Tommy Paul claimed a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Ben Shelton on Rod Laver Arena.
Stefanos Tsitsipas hails Mark Philippoussis’ influence on Australian Open credentials
There is a growing belief Stefanos Tsitsipas will break his Grand Slam duck in Melbourne this week, with a local favourite in his camp.
Magda Linette shares inspirational message after reaching last four
Magda Linette admitted that she has been prone to beating herself up over losses.
Aryna Sabalenka to take on Magda Linette in Australian Open semi-finals after Donna Vekic rout
Sabalenka defeated Donna Vekic while unseeded Linette upset Karolina Pliskova.
John McEnroe on rumours Rafael Nadal may be contemplating retirement
Tennis legend John McEnroe comments on the rumours Rafael Nadal may be set to retire.
John McEnroe enters the debate on Novak Djokovic’s hamstring injury
Tennis legend John McEnroe has admitted he is confused by Novak Djokovic’s hamstring problem at the Australian Open.