With a Federer-less French Open very much underway I thought I'd put together a quick compilation of Federer best ever matches at Roland Garros. Most of them wins, a couple of losses and some of them matches I've not had the pleasure of ever watching. Here we go in no particular order…
Roger Federer def. Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) – 2011
An easy start with the the match that ended Djokovic's 43-match winning streak. Some of the shotmaking in this match was out of this world and the ace up the T on match point was a fitting end to the encounter.
The only disappointing thing about this win is that by winning Roger probably had his best shot at beating Nadal at the French in the final, missing a drop shot on set point in the first set and failing to win it from 5-2 up. Losing 5 games in a row after a Nadal medical timeout. Close but no cigar.
Roger Federer def. Tommy Haas 6-7 (4-7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 – 2009
The match that kept the French Open dream alive and featured that vital break point inside out forehand save at 3-4 in the third set. Perhaps one of the most important shots of Roger's career and just ultimate on court bravery to run around a backhand like that on virtual match point. Check out the break point in the next game too that ends with Haas going long with a fairly easy volley after a long rally. Epic.
Federer def. Del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 – 2009
This one for me is Roger's most emotional match at the French Open where the crowd and chasing history got him through. Del Potro got off to an absolute flyer with his forehand firing on all cylinders but Roger battled away and eventually took away Del Potro's legs to win through in 5 helped by the French crowd who were chanting “Roger, Roger” incessantly.
Pat Rafter def. Roger Federer 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 – 1999
Roger's first ever Grand Slam match where he showed some early signs of what he was capable of (with the commentators suggesting he was one for the future), firing off a no look smash winner with his back to the court.
Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) – 2006
Not an obvious pick this one as Nadal won the match easily but the first set is one of the best sets I have seen Federer play on clay. What happened after that was a different story as Nadal adjusted and Roger faded after such a brilliant start, the story of their H2H 🙁
Roger Federer def. Nikolay Davydenko 7–5, 7–6(5), 7–6(7) – 2007
I put this one in because it wasn't a typical Federer match as he had to come from a break down in each set to win this one in straights. Davydenko played some really good ball and served for sets 2 and 3 but Roger found that bit extra to come through, serving clutch when he had to saving 14 break points and saving set points on the Davydenko serve.
Roger Federer def. Sargis Sargsian, 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 9-7 – 2001
A bit before my time this one as I was a Henman fan but this win saw Roger make his first ever Grand Slam Quarter Final and also come back from 2 sets down in a Slam for the first time. An impressive win against Sargsian who put in some good performances in his career with 2 notable scalps being Phillipousis in Melbourne and Roddick at the French. Sadly there's no footage of this one YouTube. The match might not even have been televised?
Roger Federer def. Michel Kratochvil 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 8-6 – 2000
Another match before Federer was on my radar as the only Tennis I watched in 2000 would have been Wimbledon. Like the Sargsian match this is another 5 setter and the first time Roger made the fourth round in a Grand Slam beating fellow countryman Michel Krathovil 8-6 in the fifth. Kinda cool there's some footage of this one.
Roger Federer def. Juan Martin Del Potro 3–6, 6–7(4), 6–2, 6–0, 6–3 – 2012
I included this match as I think it's Federer's last great match at Roland Garros. In 2013 he played that 5 setter with Simon which was good (although he was below par) but in 2014 and 2015 the first tough opposition he ran into; he lost.
This one was somewhat like 2009 with Del Potro dominating with his forehand but once again Federer hung around as Del Potro faded with a knee injury and the Swiss was able to up his game as the match wore on.
PS – I didn't include the Soderling 2009 final as even though it was a history maker, if you look at it in isolation I don't think it has that great match feel to it. With the matches against Acasuso, Haas, Monfils and Del Potro all high on emotion in rounds previous that one always felt like it had a Federer win all over it.
Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments. Any other suggestions? And has anyone seen Sargsian match?