Absent last season in Paris, Roger Federer made his comeback at the Roland Garros 2021, playing in the first round of the Parisian Grand Slam against Uzbekistani Denis Istomin. In 2019, Federer overtook Lorenzo Sonego, Oscar Otte, Casper Ruud, Leonardo Mayer and compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the Bois de Boulogne, before losing once again to Spaniard Rafael Nadal in three sets in the semifinals.
Federer, seeded number 8 in France, has defeated Istomin in the last few hours with a score of 6-2 6-4 6-3, booking the second round appointment with the Croatian Marin Cilic, who has already beaten nine times in ten career opportunities.
The last meeting between the two took place in the final of the 2018 Australian Open, won by Roger in the fifth set. Thanks to his success on Istomin, Federer has climbed to the first place, on a par with the American Jimmy Connors, in the Open Era ranking which counts the most time elapsed between the first game won in a Grand Slam tournament and the last: twenty-one years, between 2000 and 2021.
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Connors had instead succeeded in a period of time between 1971 and 1992, when, at the age of 40 years-old, he managed to beat Jaime Oncins in the first round of the US Open, before being defeated by Ivan Lendl.
Andre Agassi, Fabrice Santoro and Feliciano Lopez follow equally in this ranking: all stopped at 19. Before his debut at Roland Garros a few hours ago, the number 8 of the world rankings Roger Federer had played his last official match in a Grand Slam event at the Australian Open 2020, being defeated in the semifinals by Novak Djokovic in two sets.
Since then, the Basel phenomenon has only returned to the court this year to take part in two ATP 250 events: Doha and Geneva, winning only with Daniel Evans in Qatar and losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili and Pablo Andujar.
In fact, in the long period of absence, Roger had to undergo two delicate operations on his right knee, without considering the following months occupied by the Coronavirus pandemic, during which no ATP and WTA Tours events were staged.