Roger Federer makes honest French Open admission Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will like

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Roger Federer admits he “knows” he will not win the French Open next month after crashing out of the Geneva Open in his first match this week. Federer lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to Pablo Andujar in only his third match on the 2021 ATP Tour.

Federer returned to the court for the first time in over 12 months at the Qatar Open in March and despite beating Dan Evans, lost in his second match to Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s second comeback tournament saw him surprised by Andujar despite being the top seed in his homeland.

Federer, who underwent two knee surgeries during his year out, still plans to compete at the French Open but admits he has no chance of rivalling the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Paris.

The 39-year-old, who turns 40 in August, is focused on being back at his best for the grass-court season.

And while his return to Roland Garros on May 30 will be the first time he plays on the red stuff in the French capital since 2019, Federer says he’s not even considering the possibility of winning the Grand Slam.

Federer said: “I think when you played so little, and you know where your level is at, and I think you saw that today, how can I think of winning the French Open?

“I’m just realistic, and I know I will not win the French, and whoever thought I would or could go all the way in Paris is wrong.

“Of course, crazier things might have happened, but I’m not so sure in the last 50 years at the French Open, somebody just rocked up at 40-year-old, being out for a year and a half, and just go on to just win everything straight.”

Nadal is the strong favourite for the French Open again this year as a 13-time Roland Garros champion.

His record at the tournament is a phenomenal 100-2 and he has not been beaten on the court there since losing to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

The Serbian world No 1 is the strongest rival to Nadal but was beaten by the Spaniard in the Italian Open final in Rome last Sunday.

The pair also went head-to-head in last year’s French Open final but Nadal ran out a convincing winner in straight sets on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Federer will meanwhile play in Halle at the Noventi Open from June 14 to 20, where he is a 10-time titlist.

Wimbledon then begins a week later on June 28 where Federer stands his best chance of winning a 21st Slam, having been triumphant at SW17 a record eight times.

He added after losing to Andujar: “When I walk out of a match like today, I feel like, ‘My God, I could play so much better.’

“It feels strange, and it’s disappointing, but at the same time, this is the process I need to go through, and that’s why I can’t get too down on myself, and I need to go back to the drawing board.”

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Earlier in the week before the Geneva Open, Federer had said: “Once I get healthy and matches under my belt, that will increase my confidence. I think then I’ll be a part of the top tier.

“If you want to be in the top tier you need to play 50, 80 or 100 matches per season and that gets tougher as you get older.

“You would think that the game has improved again. For me, that’s going to be an extra challenge.

“Extra hard to find that level but one that I guess that I knew from the get go [that] it was never going to be simple – regardless of if I was going to be out for three months or now almost a year-and-a-half.

“I was happy that the knee didn’t feel any different from hard to clay, and I expect the same in the switch from clay to grass.

“So far, the clay has been good for me and I hope it will be good for me for the grass. When you come back from an injury you are anyway in a different place than everyone else.

“The players are there, I’m here at the moment. That’s why I am excited about the comeback.

“That’s what my focus needs to be on and not about trying to be at the same level as Rafael [Nadal] and Novak [Djokovic] right now. That’s not why I am playing Geneva.”

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