Roger Federer in action at the 2021 French Open
Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros with an emphatic straight-sets victory over Denis Istomin on Monday. The Swiss won 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in 93 minutes to progress to the second round, where he will face either Marin Cilic or Arthur Rinderknech.
Federer entered the contest on a two-match losing streak and many expected the Swiss to be rusty, given this was his first best-of-five sets match in over a year.
Instead, it proved to be smooth sailing for the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who controlled proceedings from start to finish.
On that note, here are three talking points from Federer’s comprehensive victory against Istomin:
#1 Roger Federer’s magical touch at the net is back
Roger Federer is renowned for his feel at the net, having consistently pulled off outrageous volleys over the years. But the 39-year-old struggled with his net play in his matches against Dan Evans and Nikoloz Basilashvili in Doha.
While Federer did improve on that aspect of his game against Pablo Andujar in Geneva, he took things up a notch against Denis Istomin. The World No. 8 charged to the net 24 times against the Uzbek and won 19 of those points, amounting to a success rate of almost 80%.
Even the hardest of strikes from Istomin were met by the softest of touches from Roger Federer’s racquet as he served up some magnificent volleys on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
#2 Attack is still the name of the game for Roger Federer
Roger Federer is widely regarded as one of the best offensive players in the history of the sport, and he showed exactly why as he racked up a mammoth 48 winners in just three sets against Istomin on Monday.
To put things into perspective, Alexander Zverev, who played a five-setter against Oscar Otte on Sunday, struck 50 winners, while Jannik Sinner, who is known for his ball-striking, managed just 43 winners in his five-setter against Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Monday.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has been in sublime touch of late, struck 31 winners in his straight-sets win over Jeremy Chardy.
Nineteen of Federer’s 48 winners were either volleys or drop shots, another indication that the Swiss was keen on keeping points as short as possible.
#3 When Roger Federer serves well, he’s won half the battle
Roger Federer’s serve has always been one of his biggest weapons, earning him free points and setting him up for easy putaways.
There is a general consensus that when Federer serves well, he does not really need to do much more to win matches.
Against Denis Istomin, Federer landed a respectable 71% of his first serves, winning 80% of those points. But it was his second serve that was especially impressive, as he repeatedly dragged Istomin out of position with strong kickers.
Federer won 79% of the points he played on his second serve and did not face a single break point. In all, Roger Federer lost just 13 points on serve, which bode well for him in the next few rounds.
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