By Kate Battersby. To view the article in full visit www.rolandgarros.com
Roger Federer was in mellow mode at Roland Garros on Day 4 of the 2014 tournament. He saw off the qualifier Diego Sebastian Schwartzmann 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to secure his place in the third round, but instead of exiting Suzanne Lenglen Court immediately, he lingered for 15 minutes or more, exchanging knockabout stuff with television interviewers, signing autographs and posing for selfies. Small wonder he eventually left to wild applause.
In cool and sometimes drizzly conditions, it wasn’t even as if the No.4 seed had the match against the Argentinian entirely his own way. Schwartzmann, ranked No.109, was celebrating his first appearance in a Slam main draw having won through qualifying at his fifth attempt. He had played just six tour-level matches before this, and his first-round victory over fellow qualifier Gastao Elias was only his second tour-level win. Standing just 1.70m tall, Schwartzmann is one of the shortest players around, and hence will always be at a disadvantage. But he got the most out of his appearance on the big show court, and did not allow the 17-time Grand Slam champion to to feel at ease.
“I didn’t feel relaxed for the entire match,” confessed Federer afterwards. “I always felt he had a little bit of an upper hand from the baseline. He was doing a really good job being aggressive and making good plays. He managed to put pressure on me and keep it on. Clearly because of his height he doesn’t have the biggest serve, and that kept me sometimes in two minds. But he handled the conditions really well. He’s probably going to move up the rankings. He’s very steady, very fast, got some good qualities.”
It must be a good day’s work for Schwartzmann to have a legend of the sport say such things about him. As for Federer, he's feeling just fine.
“Sometimes people think tennis life is only fun when you win, and when you lose clearly it’s a disaster, it’s all really bad. Yes, that’s disappointing and it’s not much fun," Federer said. "But at the same time, you can enjoy a tournament, enjoy a city, enjoy life while moving on with your career. If you have the big picture in mind, then you realise that missing a few too many forehands has zero impact on how I will actually sleep tonight.”