In 2018, when the occasion was nonetheless on an island as an alternative of in an N.F.L. stadium, Federer misplaced in his opening spherical to Thanasi Kokkinakis. Although Federer had one other scare in the identical spherical this 12 months in opposition to the qualifier Radu Albot, he rallied to win in three units after which gathered nothing however momentum, successful 5 straight matches in straight units.
“It’s straightforward simply to say, ‘Effectively final 12 months didn’t work out, so I received’t come again this 12 months, and as I’m enjoying the clay, perhaps add slightly one other clay-court occasion,’ ” Federer mentioned. “However I felt like let’s lengthen the hardcourt season. Let’s see the brand new venue. To be sincere, I believe that was one thing additionally I used to be excited to see. I did really feel like the sport was there final 12 months, and I assumed additionally the sport was positively right here this 12 months even after the Australian Open. So I’m pleased with the staff, we took the best determination.”
The staff has additionally agreed that Federer will play on clay for the primary time since a quick, unfulfilling go to to Monte Carlo in 2016. His subsequent event: Madrid in early Might, which can give him time to reboot and reacquaint himself with the sport’s grittiest floor.
How assured is he?
“Not very assured,” he mentioned. “I don’t even bear in mind how one can slide anymore. , I’m taking child steps at this level.”
It’s sensible, as ever, to attempt to underpromise and overdeliver, significantly when you find yourself getting into the dominion of Nadal, the 11-time French Open champion and most profitable males’s clay-court participant in historical past.
However Federer, regardless of his fourth-round loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas on the Australian Open, has actually had one other hardcourt run to savor in 2019.
He seemed totally in his ingredient on Sunday, simply as Isner feared and anticipated he would.
“I knew he was going to play effectively at present; I knew he was seeing the ball very large,” Isner mentioned. “Definitely that was the case. I wasn’t as much as the duty within the first set, that’s for certain.”