French OpenGrand SlamsRoger Federer

French Open Draw 2019: Federer To Face Sonego in the First Round

The Swiss lands in the same half as Rafael Nadal on his return to Roland Garros

The draw for Roland Garros 2019 has just taken place at the Orangerie building in the Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil and Roger Federer will face Lorenzo Sonego in the first round.

Heading in as the third seed, this is Roger's first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015 and it will certainly be interesting to see what sort of tennis he can produce on what is now widely regarded as his weakest surface. You can see his projected opponents below:

Roger Federer's Projected Opponents

  • Round 1: Lorenzo Sonego
  • Round 2: Malek Jaziri / Qualifier
  • Round 3: Matteo Berrettini
  • Round 4: Marco Cecchinato / Diego Schwartzman
  • Quarter Final: Stefanos Tsitsipas
  • Semi-Final: Rafael Nadal
  • Final: Novak Djokovic

Full printable PDF draw.

Thoughts on the Draw

Federer French Open Practice 19

First up for Roger is the Italian Lorenzo Sonego. The two have never met before so if you did your homework from my Federer career statistics post, you'll know this will be the 334th different opponent Federer has faced in his career.

Sonego is an out and out clay court specialist with all his Challenger and Futures titles coming on the dirt and he was able to make the Quarter Finals at this year's Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

I know very little about him but from YouTube, he looks to have a decent backhand and a bit of a funky serve.  So a tricky opener for Roger, one you expect him to win but it could be competitive.

Round 2 then pits Federer against Malek Jaziri or a Qualifier. Clay isn't Jaziri's best surface and he's never been past the second round in Paris but he can play well in flashes. He's definitely not the fittest guy on tour and with the qualifiers yet to be placed I'm not sure who Roger is more likely to face assuming he makes it out of round one.

Into the last 32 and Matteo Berrettini is the likely opponent. The Italian has had a great clay court swing winning the Hungarian Open, making the final Munich and recording his first top 5 win against Sascha Zverev in Rome.

Berrettini has a big weapon in his serve and can win a lot of free points with it so that's another match that could be competitive. I saw some of his matches in Gstaad last year and he's very comfortable on clay, likes the drop shot yet can grind too when the situation calls for it.

The fourth round could see Roger play an Italian for the third time in four matches as Marco Cecchinato is the top seed. Marco is returning to Roland Garros with fond memories having beaten Novak Djokovic on the way to the semifinals at last years tournament but he's not in the best of form. His best clay performance this season came at the Bavarian Open where he made the semifinal but other than he's not had that many meaningful results.

Schwartzman is also in this section and he's coming in off a successful tournament in Rome where he pushed Djokovic to the wire in the semi-final. Based on that he's my favourite to come through his section as he's solid and doesn't stop running.  Roger practised with the diminutive Argentinian this week and it's tough to see where Schwartzman can make the impact with his game other than by making a lot of balls and hoping Roger misses. 

For the quarterfinals, Tsitsipas is the top seed but there are a few other names in that quarter with Wawrinka, Garin, Cilic and Dimitrov all there that are capable of winning four or more matches in Paris.

However, apart from Garin who's been playing great this season, their respective form is absolutely woeful. Both Stan and Grigor bombed out in Geneva this week and Cilic has had some dreadful results of late. I quite like the look of Krajinovic as an outsider in that section but Tsitsipas is all business-like on the court so he should come through.

Fed FO Pratice 19

Roger is in Nadal's half so Rafa would naturally be the semifinal opponent and the eleven time Champion has an absolute cakewalk of a draw. Of course, it's only on paper and it only takes one guy to find his form but his quarter is filled with clay court lightweights and mental midgets 😆

The other half of the draw has Djokovic as the top seed and there are some tricky names in there for him. Even Hurkacz in the first round is no pushover so he won't have it all his own way. I liked what I saw from him in Rome though and if he can come through some of those tricky matches efficiently he's the favourite to make the final along with Rafa.

Federer's Practice on the new Chatrier Court with Schwartzman

Some crisp hitting! 

Predictions for Federer? 4th Round of Quarter Finals for me. But the draw is bound to change after day 1 so anything can happen 🙂 

What are your thoughts on the draw? Let me know in the comments.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. Also, Rafa is *only* 11 time champion.
    Probably 12 is coming, but you can never know. Maybe the bandage will pop out..

  2. I really like the draw, Fed has a real good chance to make it all the way to Semis. Would love to see Fed face Nadal in Semis and hopefully continue the winning run against Nadal.

    1. Hmm,I think the quarters are probably as far as Fed will go,what with the curse of Schwartzman and then probably
      Tsisty.Djokovic also a very tricky draw with possibly Thiem or Del Poto in the semis .
      As for Nadal why don’t they give him the trophy now.An absolute joke of a draw,he will be as fresh as a daisy for the final.
      You do have to wonder about a draw that lands every possible threat to him in the other half.
      Boring and predictable.

      1. Annie, I meant their last 5 meetings. I know that Roger has a poor record on clay against Nadal but that was 8 years ago where Fed was playing with smaller head size …with the larger head size Fed definitely gained confidence and would definitely love to go on with the attack against Nadal especially on the backhand side which he had been doing in their last 5 meetings. Of course we would have seen their meeting in Rome last week if Fed had not withdrawn.

      2. It depends how high the court is bouncing, Federer cannot attack high balls with his backhand that well. He’d need to use Djoker’s tactic and really step into to take it on the rise. Which is hard with a 1 hander/tiring.

  3. Roger wanted to play with Rafa on RG clay, so he should make it :-). I believe that Maestro will show us top performance despite the sh*t colour of his RG suite 🙂 🙂 ( maybe a kind of revenge from UniQlo for the super high RF salary 🙂 ).

    1. I realised yesterday that Roger’s outfit is cleverly designed to compliment (complement? can’t decide) the colour of the stands and seats at RG 🙂

      1. So he will sort of merge into the background and his opponents won’t know where he is
        on court? A truly cunning plot😊

      2. Compliment is a greeting. Complement is something that is optionally added to something else.
        Go, Roger!

  4. It is not an easy draw for Roger or Nadal. Roger’s first opponent is a tricky one and has never played him before. On the other hand Roger looks confortable playing on clay and hopefully his knee is fully recovered. As long as he stays healthy for Wimbledon for me that’s all that counts.

      1. We never know where are upset candidates . The qualifiers could be surprise-man Sandgren, Darcis (!) or Rosol 😉

    1. Frankly the draw does not matter at all for Rafa in this tournament. He plays against himself, if he does it close enough to his best form it will be a cakewalk.

      1. Rafa is lucky (or the draw manipulated), that he must not meet anyone of real contenders before the final. If Thiem reaches the final, he has at least Del Potro and Djokovic in the bones. He can play 12 sets a day and still not be tired, but the mental exhaustion is unavoidable.
        I hope still for Thiem reaching the final as <he will go for it badly .
        Last year Thiem didn't challenge Rafa enough (John McEnroe told him). But now it will be second time. Now he will (assuming he comes there) and he has perfect tools to beat Rafa. Rafa is great in defense so long no bombing like Thiem's comes. Barcelona (slow court, not Madrid or Rome) has shown, Rafa at his best may be not enough against Thiem.. I'm not surprised if Thiem wins. I''m not surprised, if Rafa wins too. If Thiem can overcome Delpo and Djoker quite easily, I give him more chances than Rafa.

  5. Hmm, some potentially tricky claycourters even in early rounds – Sonego could be interesting in the first round. Hoping Roger will do well, but I’m just going to take it round by round and see how it goes.

  6. 4th Round would a good result, making the quarters would be great and should keep him in good shape for wimbledon. I dont expect anything more really. The other side of draw will probably be wearing the hell of each other only to find a fresh and in-tune Rafa in the finals. Its slam no. 18 for him. I know people woild say Thiem, Djoker and all that. But really the only thing that would stop him is an absolute in form Djokovic, and thats a maybe too.
    I ‘d love to see Roger play some beautiful tennis and penultimately focus on Wimbledon.
    Cheers J.

  7. I hope for a Federer-Nadal, for one last time.
    It’s an absolutely joke of a draw for Nadal. Roland Garros banned me in Youtube for saying it’s rigged, so that says something.
    No wonder he got 11 RG, if he isn’t even tired at every damn final. Every single threat is in the other side of the draw, ridiculous.

  8. For a Slam draw, this is pretty good. Obviously depends what he can bring to the table, but agree that R4 or QF would be good, and I think SF are not out of the question. Obviously I’d love to see him beat Rafa on clay, but it doesn’t seem very likely. (Unless Rafa has TOO easy a time of it & is underplayed as a result!)

    Really I just want him to have fun, play with joy, & stay in good shape physically. However many rounds that means. (I may not be nearly so sanguine once we get going!)

  9. So Nadal will play a Qualifier in the 1st R and surely another Qualifier in 2nd R? Not that it really matters to him but that is sure lucky.

    1. I am sure Roger can do well at RG this year.

      – Because he won’t be too “nervoso” with all these Italians in his part of the draw.

      – Because he wants to put some advance between himself and Nadal  & Djokovic for Grand Slams.

      – Because I am convinced a 2nd RG beating Nadal in the semis would be a supreme achievement and he loves challenges.

      – Because Djokovic has a tough draw.

      – Because the French crowd has kept tons of applause for him for 3 years : we will help him and support him all along the way…

      – Because we must trust him.

      Go Maestro, you are the best !


  10. Have watched the Schwartzman practice. Scxhwartzman can of course better. It was probably arranged, Schwartzman hits Roger to the racket so he does not need run to much.

    Which is not the true image. Roger can ht anything from a stance, not so much from ruining (look his last match vs. Coric).

    The key factor is, how Roger can move. He is not sliding at all (at least in the Schwartzman practice” but he will not avoid running and sliding even against Sonego and then we will see, what’s really his potential. One 3-setter (or maybe 4) with ot of running and sliding (hopefully sliding, not slipping) and he can call it a day.

    1. Why would a professional player who has a chance of making the second week “arrange not to make Federer run” 😆 you obviously think very highly of Schwartzman. If a light practice was required they’d bring in a French Junior or 2 hitting partners.

      1. I don’t know about arrangements. I’m talking about what I have seen and I know what both can play.

        This was a short piece of the practice. I guess, players arrange for parts of the practice to play this or that, so the other can test what he needs.

        Some other part of this practice may have looked differently.

        And I guess, Roger for sure does not need a practice with lot of running. Schwartzman may need it, because it’s his weapon.

  11. A draw is a draw. Accept it for what it is. If it’s rigged… strong statements require strong proof. Without it, it’s calling for unnecessary trouble.

      1. Or use a rule based on the ATP current rank: #1 and #2 on separate halves, #3 and #4 on separate quarters and so forth. Then pair the players by either using a same rank difference or the sum of ranks (Ex: Semifinals: 1 vs 3 and 2 vs 4 OR 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3)
        That would end speculation. And then again..

      2. Only the seeded players are picked manually.
        The non seeded players are always selected “by computer”, we don’t see anything.
        And hence Nadal is always at the top or the bottom of the draw, it could be easily rigged for the first week.

  12. It’s quite strange how the draws work out, Tsi seems to be following Federer
    about! Wish Dom T had had a better draw. Can’t say I remember Sonego
    however I never like the first match of any tournament. I’m almost afraid
    to say it but I think Roger looks good in his latest outfit x

    1. Yeah I think Thiem has been in Djoker’s half lots too. Although they were drawn manually from a cup so hard to say it was rigged 😀

      1. There are for sure possibilities to manipulate the draw, whatever is shown in TV.

        Rafa could have some privileges in Paris and Roger on Wimbledon.

        Placing Thiem in Nadal’s half would mean either a bigger chance for Nadal failing before the final and then eventually play the final against Djoker after maybe hard 5-setter in semi against Thiem.

        Thiem is a kind of expert in playing and defeating Rafa. The earlier stage, the higher chance Thiem wins.

        And I guess, they want to have Rafa in the final and Thiem&Djoker should wear each other before one of them meets Rafa.

        Of course it’s not guaranteed. There are others with great potential (Delpo for instance, by some accident also in the other half. So Thiem will need to defeat Delpo and Djoker before meeting Rafa. A.s.o.
        We can speculate so long he want only to see everything goes differently 😉

  13. “I’m going to play freely and It’s a pleasure” said Fed. Hope so, baby.
    The draw looks tough with guys play well on dirt but you never know. Just happy to see him playing on any surface, with or without 😆 any outfit! Thanks Jonathan for the well-explained draw post. Good job!

  14. Oh well at he is in the draw, happy he is playing 2nd GS. Hope he is able to get through the 1st week,

    1. Does that mean Feds half plays first?If so advantage Nadal again as he will have the extra day of rest
      before the final,as if he is going to need it😎

      1. It also means that if Fed wins his QF on Tuesday June 4 he will have 2 days off to prepare for his SF on Friday June 7. May be good ! 🙂
        But let’s be prudent. One match at a time should remain our motto !

      2. And when are you going to see him FBRF? Take all our love to him with you, please!
        Enjoy 🙂

  15. When I look at a draw, the rankings don’t seem to matter so much. Some players with a high ranking are in a funk and don’t pose much of a threat. Then, there are others that are on a roll and are more of a threat. Someone always seems to come out of nowhere and take down some top players. So, I always think, the best is focusing on one match at a time.

    I see the ATP is joining forces with Laver Cup. If you can’t beat em, join em. I guess ATP saw the power of this tournament and wanted on board. The power of Roger Federer.

    1. “If you can’t beat em, join em.” – Haha good one Sue. Have you seen the LC ‘A new chapter begins’ video clip? Big on Fedal but Novak is nowhere to be seen… 😆

  16. WIanda : I have seats for Round 2 for the central court on both days (May 29 and 30). Hope to see the Maestro. Will send him all the love from this blog !

      1. Yep, thinking of it.
        Large banners are forbidden inside the RG stadium but a large sheet of paper (smoothly folded in my rucksack)  should do.
        Still hesitating between those :

        Un match de Roger
        la Palme d’or de la grâce


        God couldn’t play tennis.
        So, he sent Roger Federer.

        R… oger, the best
        O…  f all times
        G… raceful
        E… legant
        R… oland#19 is for you !


        R… oland#2019
        O…h ! te revoilà !
        G… agne, s’il te plaît
        E… t reviens chaque année
        R OG ER, tu es le meilleur !

        … or maybe another one if I get more inspired after his first game… uh ! victory, today. Roger, you’d better smash Lorenzo !

        Still wondering about the language too : French or English ? Gosh ! What a dilemma for my Sunday !

  17. Not a bad draw for Roger. No wild imagination required to see Roger playing Rafa in the semis. Quite possible. May not happen, but it could. Would be good if Roger makes it to the quarters at least, but I will hate to see Roger lose to Tsitsi again in a Slam so he better make it to semis. 🙂

  18. Laver Cup on ATP Your🙂🙂 you can’t keep your most entertaining player running a tournament outside of the Tour. It shows how loved and respected Roger is. ATP has long and good understanding with Tennis Australia but still never considered Hopman Cup as part of tour. Not even slight mention of it in any articles.

    1. LC should not be part of ATP Tour (which would mean to give ATP ranking points), only the part of the Calendar, meaning, no ATP Tour calendar will be played at the time of LC.
      LC remains exhibition like Hopman Cup. Exhibitions are either for charity or for business. In this case it’s business

      I must say, while i like LC, I don’t like this kind of relationship, because this exhibition is owned by Team8, strictly private Federer’s agency.

      If something guarantees participation of big names in LC, it’s an honor and glory to play for Federer (not Europa or America) , last but not least big appearance fees.

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