x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Roger Federer ready to take Paris despite setback in Rome

Former world No 1 determined to add to his one French Open trophy, and Serena Williams braces for a possible third-round showdown with sister Venus.

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer eyes the ball as returns to the ball to French Jeremy Chardy during the tennis Masters on May 14, 2014 at the Foro Italico in Rome. Andreas Solaro / AFP
Swiss tennis player Roger Federer eyes the ball as returns to the ball to French Jeremy Chardy during the tennis Masters on May 14, 2014 at the Foro Italico in Rome. Andreas Solaro / AFP

PARIS // Roger Federer could be excused for feeling groggy as he prepares for the French Open after becoming father to a second set of twins. Instead, he says he is fully charged for a run deep into the tournament.

The draw for the tournament at Roland Garros was made yesterday and Federer will meet Louis Lacko in the first round, with Novak Djokovic a potential semi-final opponent.

The 32-year-old Swiss’s build-up to the French Open was disrupted when wife Mirka delivered Leo and Lenny this month, meaning he skipped the Madrid Masters.

The 17-time grand slam champion returned in Rome where he bowed out early against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, but he is not worried he has not yet returned to peak form.

Asked if his sleep patterns had been disturbed, he said: “Not much, you know, to be honest. They sleep that much that I don’t feel bad yet going out of the room and coming back. It’s almost the same situation.

“Things are fairly normal. Clearly there is a bit more happening and there is a bit more you can do if you want to, but Mirka takes care of most of it.”

Federer said he was spending plenty of time with his twin girls Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, who were born in 2009.

“I feel like I’m in good shape. I know where my game is at. I’m not worried that maybe there is not enough matches,” said Federer, who won his only French Open title in 2009.

Rafael Nadal, the top seed, will begin his pursuit of a record-extending ninth French Open title against the American Robby Ginepri.

After conceding to struggling with his self-confidence last month, Rafael Nadal believes his frazzled nerves have been consigned to history.

The world No 1 said he was shaken following early clay-court exits at the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open in the run-up to the Paris major where he has a phenomenal 59-1 win-loss record.

The Spaniard, however, was back to his best when he won the Madrid Masters and reached the final in Rome, losing to Djokovic in three sets.

“During the clay-court season I got a little bit better week by week,” Nadal said.

“Last week in Rome, it was tough, physically.

“I played a lot but in the end sometimes you need these things. I think I played a little bit better during the whole tournament, and especially after the first two rounds, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final.”

He said what matters is ahead. “Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona is past now. We are here in Roland Garros and the only thing that matters now is have a good practice.”

In his first French Open match for two years, Andy Murray will take on Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev.

The Wimbledon champion, seeded seventh, missed the tournament last year because of the back problems that eventually saw him have surgery last September.

He was placed in the same half as Nadal, while Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams is set for a third-round clash with sister Venus following a French Open draw that left her in the tougher half of the tournament.

The defending champion and top seed will open her 13th campaign at Roland Garros with a match against the young French wild card Alize Lim, while Venus, who has never won the title in Paris and went out in the first round last year, starts against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

The prospect of once again playing her older sister at a grand slam event is not something Serena relishes.

“No, it never gets easier,” she said. “She’s essentially the love of my life, so it’s definitely difficult.”

If she makes it through to the last eight, the American’s opponent could be seventh seed Maria Sharapova, who she beat in last year’s final. The Russian was the French Open champion the previous year.

Potential semi-final opponents include third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who took Serena to three sets in the 2012 Wimbledon final, or the big-hitting German Angelique Kerber.

Coming into Paris after a runaway win in Rome, Williams said that her form in Italy last week was encouraging after a run of injuries and loss of form early in the season.

Sharapova, who won back-to-back clay-court titles in Stuttgart and Madrid as part of her preparations for Roland Garros, said that, at 27 and with a professional career dating back 10 years, she was as ambitious as ever.

“I want to achieve more and I want to win more grand slams and I want to get back to No 1,” she said.

The bottom half of the draw sees second seed and 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China begin with a match against France’s Kristina Mladenovic, the junior champion at Roland Garros in 2009.


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