Roger Federer doesn’t know a lot about his third-round opponent, #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud. In fact, he might know more about Christian Ruud, Casper’s father and coach who ended his career at the 2001 Roland Garros, the eighth Slam Federer played.
“I know probably more about his dad than about him. Even though I never played him, the father,” Federer said. “I know that [Casper has] improved a lot in recent years, and I think he plays very well on the clay. Again, I haven’t seen him play a whole lot. But for any 20-year-old to be on the big stage, playing a top guy, on a centre court, that’s what you dream of.”
Federer coasted into the third round on Wednesday as he continued his Roland Garros return without dropping a set 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 against Germany’s Oscar Otte.
The third-seeded Swiss, making his first appearance in Roland Garros since 2015, won 75 per cent of his service points, including the same percentage on his second offering, and was never challenged against the 25-year-old German, No. 144 in the ATP Rankings. Federer saved all four break points faced.
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“I must say I feel really good, considering I haven’t played here in that long. Especially if I think back a few weeks and months ago before Madrid, didn’t know how successful I was going to play or how I was going to feel on the clay,” said Federer, who played in Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.
Ruud made his first third round at a Grand Slam by beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. The 20-year-old Ruud, playing at a career-high No. 63, made the fourth round at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome earlier this month (l. to Del Potro) and improved to 13-5 on the season with the straight-sets win against Berrettini.
“Today, by the scoreline against Berrettini, seems like he did his work, and he deserves to be in the third round. I will take him very seriously,” Federer said.
Ruud has matched his Grand Slam win total this week and has yet to drop a set in beating Berrettini and 2014 semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
“Now I’m playing one of the greatest champions ever of this sport on Friday, so I’m just super excited for it. I can play loose and free. I have nothing to stress about or think too much about,” Ruud said. “I will be a bit excited and nervous, but I will just look at it as a great opportunity and a privilege to be able to play Roger.”
Ruud, however, offered a confession of sorts: “To be honest, I’ve been a little bit more of a Rafa fan and Rafa guy. But those two have always been my two absolute favourites.”
In other action, French wild card Nicolas Mahut, 37, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 and will meet the winner of Argentine Leonardo Mayer and 17th seed Diego Schwartzman. Their match was suspended because of darkness with Mayer leading 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-3.
“I was completely carefree. I could be carefree. I played my last weapons, and it was good. This is something that one can do when one is at the end of one’s career,” Mahut said. “I’m here now at the third round. It’s crazy. But that’s also the [Roland Garros] magic. French players can give their best. As every time when I was young, I would watch tennis on TV and I could see a French player playing in an outstanding way, and that’s never been my case. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, in 20 years I haven’t done it.’ And this year it’s happening. I’m very proud. I’m very happy.”