x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

The high demands the media place on Roger Federer

The world No 3 finds trying to make his early round matches in grand slams interesting to reporters tough.

Roger Federer celebrates beating Adrian Ungur.
Roger Federer celebrates beating Adrian Ungur.

As the years go by, Roger Federer has little trouble coping with the demands of playing the early rounds of a grand slam event but it is an altogether different story when it comes to dealing with post-match scrutiny.

The Swiss third seed won a record 234th grand slam match, surpassing Jimmy Connors's professional-era record, by dismissing the Romanian Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 6-3 in the second round yesterday.

That has been achieved thanks to his sheer consistency in the majors.

You have to go back eight years to the third round of the French Open when he was beaten by Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten for the last time he was eliminated before the quarter-final stage of a grand slam, and Wimbledon 2002 was the last time he was beaten in the first round and left one of the four big events without a victory to his name.

The 16-time major champion should have won his latest match in straight sets but did not seem too concerned about his minor wobble in the third set as he continued his progress in the tournament.

"I think [playing the early rounds] is a bit easier now, just because I have been around for so long that, even though I expect myself to win, I can still manage to do that," the third seed said in his post-match press conference.

"Whereas in the beginning when you think you're good but you're maybe not that good yet, you suffer many more surprise losses."

But with fame from being successful comes extra scrutiny.

"The difference to playing a match where you're the overwhelming favourite potentially in the early rounds of a grand slam is you have to [deal with the] press [inquisition] afterwards," said Federer.

"So you're talking about a match that potentially wasn't that close sometimes or they make a bigger deal out of maybe you losing a set or getting broken a couple of times, whereas maybe at another tournament you wouldn't talk about that.

"So it's just a bit of a different momentum in the press conference. I think that's the toughest part sometimes."

Federer, whose last grand slam title came in Australia in January 2010, seemed in complete control of his match on a sun-soaked Court Philippe Chatrier against Ungur before he wasted two match points in the third-set tiebreak, allowing the world No 91 to stretch the match into a fourth set.

Federer said he let his guard down in the tiebreak, which he lost 8-6, and had paid the penalty for it.

"Instead of being aggressive, I let him show me what he could do. He played two beautiful shots," he said.

There was no threat of an upset though as Ungur then ran out of steam after his moment of glory as Federer cruised through the fourth set and into the last 32 in the competition.

Although Federer had won his opening match in straight sets, the 2009 French Open champion was far happier with his performance in the opening round on Monday.

"[I felt] far better than during the first round. It was obviously a totally different match, because my opponent today was used to playing on clay, whereas my first opponent was used to harder surfaces," he said.

"Of course rallies were different because of that. Even though I won the first set 6-3 with a solid break, I knew that if he was to get in the match, it would be more difficult, and he had many opportunities during the second set.

"In the third set I made wrong decisions. He got in the match, and he played a very good third set.

"But at the end of the day, I had some margin. I did not lose any of my service games."

Federer, who is contesting his 14th consecutive Roland Garros championship, will next face France's Nicolas Mahut, who beat Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3.

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