Roger Federer is set to begin yet another campaign at the French Open, where he managed to win one of his 17 Major championships many years ago. This year, however, the tide is slightly more promising with Rafael Nadal’s apparent chinks in the armour, which will likely add to Federer’s on-court motivations and quest for a record No. 18. The Swiss No. 1 will begin his fortnight in Paris against an opponent he has faced many times before on the tour: Alejandro Falla. Federer leads the head-to-head series with an unblemished 7-0 record.
In what appeared to be a rollercoaster clay court season with many inconsistencies, Federer was able to salvage his pre-Roland Garros warm-up with an impressive finish at the Rome Masters. After a second round exit in Monte Carlo, Federer lifted the title in Istanbul but then had that momentum halted when he lost his opening match in Madrid to Nick Kyrgios. Finally, Federer was able to secure a spot in the final of the Rome Masters, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. The Swiss, who had not dropped a set all week heading into the final, admitted to playing below par in the final. It was the fourth time that Federer finished runner up in Rome and is yet to lift the tournament title in 15 attempts.
Following first round exits in Madrid and Rome, Falla moved on to Paris, where he took part in the French Open qualifying round. He defeated Lamine Ouahab and Maxime Authom before losing to Germain Gigounon. However he has returned to the fold as a lucky loser.
This marks the eighth time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour. Federer has won all of their previous match-ups on the tour, but did go five sets with Falla at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. This, however, will likely be a different match entirely on clay, and could even lead to an extra set if Federer is not careful enough.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets