Roger Federer Should Feel Confident Going into French Open Despite Rome Loss

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2013

Mar 14, 2013; Indian Wells, CA, USA;   Roger Federer (SUI) during his quarter final match against Rafael Nadal (ESP) at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Nadal won 6-4, 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Federer might not be the favorite heading into the French Open, but he is still one of the top contenders in the field.

The veteran has been taking it easy this year while remaining fresh for the bigger tournaments. He did not compete for almost two months after losing to Rafael Nadal at Indiana Wells. Since returning for the clay season, however, he has seen mixed results.

In Madrid, Federer was upset by Kei Nishikori in the third round. The Swiss player struggled mightily at defending the serve and was unable to get too many break points.

Fortunately, he turned things around at the Rome Masters. He won four matches in a row in straight sets before falling to Rafael Nadal in the finals.

While some find it concerning that Federer was only able to win four games in the final round, there is really no shame in getting dominated by the King of Clay on his favorite surface. Nadal is clearly healthy and once again able to utilize his skill and experience to win these types of matches.

In reality, it is hard to imagine anyone beating the Spanish star at Roland Garros. He has won seven of the past eight French Opens and is rarely even challenged on red clay. Few should expect Federer to compete with Nadal in the next week.

However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion matches up favorably against the rest of the field. Andy Murray has already dropped out of the field, and Novak Djokovic is clearly less than 100 percent after early exits in each of the last two tournaments. 

Among the rest of the challengers, no one has the experience of Federer. Plus, his skill is still better than anyone he faces, even as he continues to get older.

Even though he did not face any top competition for most of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the level of play was where it needed to be. If he can continue to serve as well as he has lately, he will be just fine.

Federer only has one career win at the French Open, so failing to get a championship will not be a huge deal. However, a strong performance will be able to give him momentum heading into the grass-court season, where he will truly shine.

As long as Nadal winds up on the other side of the draw, the legendary player should be able to reach the finals. From there, fans should expect at least a few tournament wins this season, with a good chance of a victory at Wimbledon.