Roger Federer gets into heated row with old rival Marin Cilic after grabbing a towel while receiving serve… before storming to victory and reaching the French Open third round
- The Swiss superstar had a heated debate with the umpire over a time violation
- Roger Federer won a decisive third set tie break to swing the game in his favour
- Federer beat Marin Cilic 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 to progress to the next round
- Federer will face Germany’s 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer following victory
Barely two months short of his 40th birthday and Roger Federer is leaving nobody in any doubt that the fire still burns.
The Swiss legend got into an uncharacteristic row with his old adversary Marin Cilic on Thursday en route to the third round of the French Open, rabbiting on like a stroppy teenager.
Amid the angry young man routine he also produced some sublime tennis to beat the Croat 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in his first Grand Slam event for 18 months.
Roger Federer got involved in a row with Marin Cilic on his way to a second round victory
The 39-year-old lost his cool and had a heated exchange with the umpire over a time violation
The spark for the lengthy second-set dispute involved him receiving a time violation, something you would more associate with his rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Cilic believed his opponent was not playing to the rhythm of the server; Federer believed Cilic was bouncing the ball too much, and at one point sauntered off to towel himself down instead of receiving.
It was not exactly fisticuffs but there were some sharp verbal exchanges, including with umpire Emmanuel Joseph. ‘I listened when you were speaking to me, now listen to me when I’m speaking to you,’ rather summed up the tone.
The Croatian showed great character to come back and clinch the second set 6-2
The 20-times Grand Slam winner was hardly apologetic later, saying: ‘I didn’t feel like I was playing particularly slow, and now I can’t go to the towel anymore.
‘I always feel like I don’t make my opponent wait very much, but clearly Marin wanted to go faster. I also haven’t played so much lately that I’m not quite understanding the rhythm.
‘When he sets his foot down to get ready for the serve, he still takes 10 bounces. I’m not in the mood to stand there and just be sort of, “Here I am so you can get ready”. I rock up when I feel like I’m also ready to go.’
The third set was tightly contested and eventually went to a tie-break which Federer won
Federer, who has played only two tournaments this year, now has a winnable-looking third round tie against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer.
The women’s singles was further depleted when world No 1 Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, failed to complete her second round match. She described herself as ‘heartbroken’.
A hip injury, resulting from serving practice last weekend and which hindered her in the first round, could not be cleared up and she had problems moving to her forehand before retiring when trailing 6-1, 2-2 against Poland’s Magda Linette.
Federer celebrates after going through to the third round of the French Open
The Australian tried to be philosophical afterwards, saying: ‘I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. It’s all good.
‘Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually.’
She remained relatively confident of appearing at Wimbledon: ‘I hope so. I really do. We do all the right things now, we continue to do the right things and will give ourselves the best chance.’
Meanwhile the chances of Naomi Osaka playing at SW19 look even more remote after the events of the past week.
The world No 2 on Thursday had her name removed from the entry list of her scheduled grass court preparatory tournament in Berlin but no final decision has been taken on Wimbledon.