Roger Federer has recently released his schedule for the next month and a half, with some changes compared to the initial forecasts. The Swiss champion will not compete in either the Masters 1000 in Madrid or the BNL Internationals of Italy, but will participate in the ATP in Geneva before traveling to Paris for Roland Garros.
When the news broke that the second Slam of the season would start a week late, many took for granted the forfeit of the 39-year-old from Basel, whose big goals will be Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics this year. With the aim of testing his body, the former world number 1 chose to take part in the Parisian tournament, where in 2019 he reached the semifinals by losing to his historical rival Rafael Nadal.
At this point, it is reasonable to imagine that King Roger will only play Halle as a preparation match on grass for the Championships. In a recent interview with Vulture, the well-known Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who played Hannibal Lecter in the television series Hannibal, praised the rivalry between Federer and Nadal, capable of going beyond the boundaries of tennis.
"I've always been a Roger Federer fan, while my wife loves Rafael Nadal, so in the end we like them both," joked Mikkelsen. "We were very lucky to be able to see two such legends in the same era. We must not forget Novak Djokovic, of course.
It is not very common for icons of the genre to reach the peak of their performance in the same years, just as it happened in football thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It doesn't matter who you support, they are a huge asset to the whole sport," he added.
Thanks to the global pandemic and the physical problems of the Swiss, Federer and Nadal have not faced each other since the semifinal of Wimbledon 2019 (won by Roger in four sets). Last year, Rafa matched his eternal rival in the all-time Grand Slam rankings after yet another triumph at the French Open.
Nadal: "Me, Federer and Djokovic always talk after a defeat"
Away from the Grand Slam tournaments, the generational change in men's tennis has already begun a few years ago. What happened in the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo is a further confirmation of this.
Novak Djokovic left the scene already in the second round at the hands of the revelation Daniel Evans, who took advantage of the bad day of the number 1 ATP from every point of view. The Belgrade champion himself admitted at a press conference that he had played one of the worst matches of his career on clay.
The next day Rafael Nadal, eleven times champion in the Principality, left the tournament, surrendering in three sets to a wild Andrey Rublev. The Spaniard also paid dearly for a return well below the sufficiency, especially in the serve and with the backhand.
However, some clarifications must be made: both Nole and Rafa were returning to the circuit after more than two months, as both had played their last tournament at the Australian Open. Speaking to reporters after the marathon with Rublev ended in the spotlight, the 34-year-old from Manacor pointed out how too much emphasis is placed in the face of the defeats of the Big 3 (Roger Federer, the same Rafa and Djokovic).
"Me, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have lost so little for so many years, that every time a stumbling block happens, it immediately becomes sensational news" - explained the 20-time Grand Slam champion, whose goal is to reach 100% in Paris.
We must never forget that in tennis there is only one player who wins every week, so everyone else loses," he added. Nadal commented clearly on his performance: "You can't expect to beat a top player like Rublev by serving so badly.
I don't even remember how many breaks I suffered, six or seven I think. When the first shot is a disaster, the whole game suffers. I think the backhand was also not up to par, it was often short and I couldn't open the field as I usually do."