Roger Federer is back on the clay for the first time since the 2016 Rome Masters, taking on Richard Gasquet for a spot in the third round at Madrid. Federer is a three time champion in Madrid but only two of them are after the tournament changed from hard court to clay court.
Watch the Federer vs Gasquet Live Stream here.
Gasquet is back after a lengthy period out with injury with this tournament being his first since the Paris Masters last year. He was decidedly rusty but still managed to pick up the win over young wildcard Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina in straight sets 7-5 7-6. He had been a break down in the first and a minibreak down in the second set tiebreak but showed great resolve to fight back on both occasions.
Since losing early at the Australian Open, Federer has performed well at his other tournaments with three straight finals. He most recently made the Miami Open final, where he defeated John Isner with ease in the final. Readjusting back to clay may be difficult but Federer seems on top of what he needs to do. “It takes some time getting used to how to construct the points maybe a little bit more. Because there is more baseline [play], there is a possibility to play with more angles and height, I guess, off a hard ball you can roll it and spin it and go loopy, whereas on a faster court you almost have to hit against it. It is hard to take pace off the ball,” Federer said. “So from that standpoint, it’s been interesting and fun. But not so challenging, to be honest.
If past history is anything to go by, it won’t be a pretty time for Gasquet in this matchup. Federer is 16-2 against the Frenchwoman although if there is any hope for Gasquet, it will be in the fact that his two wins were both on the clay – back in 2005 and 2011. With Federer intending to play Roland Garros this year, it will be intriguing to see how Madrid plays out for him this week.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets