Roger Federer in Paris was too good for his own good. Just out of the sickbay for sporting geriatrics, two months from 40, the Swiss tourism ambassador probably saw Paris as just a fleeting visit. He’d played only three matches since the Australian Open in January 2020 and lasting even two matches on a long-rally surface with a repaired body would have been a feat.
But Federer’s math was wrong and his pride too strong. His competitive instinct flared and his big-point sensors flickered on. Three matches, 11 sets, 708 points and 463 minutes later, an ostensible warm-up had become too hot to handle even for him. To stay on was polite, to play on for an ageing athlete was physically risky.
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