Federer is 1-5 this season in matches where he has lost the first set, and he has only one win over a Top 10 opponent in 2013. (Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA)
Roger Federer arrives in Paris fresh off the Rome final, which illustrated both his problem-solving skills and his biggest problem. Even with preparation limited to a couple of clay-court matches, Federer reached the final without surrendering a set—only to get completely swallowed up by his personal sinkhole, Rafael Nadal. While Rafa’s sizable shadow has enveloped Roger in Paris, the 31-year-old Swiss has advanced to the French Open final in five of the last seven years. His major experience, attacking style, all-court skills and ability to shorten points are all assets as he aims for a sixth French Open final. Federer puts a lot of returns in play, but does not break serve as often as top rivals, which makes it imperative he serves well. If he’s landing his first serve to set up his first strike, Federer will be dangerous, particularly if it’s a dry fortnight with a fast track.
What to Like:
He’s the most versatile all-court player in the Top 10, who owns more options than most. Experience can be a great equalizer: Federer has contested 34 consecutive major quarterfinals and is just four wins from his 900th career victory.
What Not to Like:
Federer has played just seven clay-court matches this season, and he looked positively powerless trying to solve nemesis Nadal. Federer’s familiar resilience has been lacking: He is 1-5 this season when losing the first set.
What to Expect:
The oldest member of the Top 10 has been extremely consistent at Roland Garros and if he can navigate the opening week without expending too much energy, he will be a threat against anyone except defending champion Nadal.
2013 French Open Profiles: