Novak Djokovic described beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open as the tennis equivalent of scaling Mount Everest – and it will be how he copes with the descent that dictates his prospects in Sunday's final.

Researchers have pointed to that being the real danger on Everest expeditions, and there are perils involved in a tennis comedown too, although Djokovic was optimistic he would be ready for Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros title match.

"I'm not the freshest guy right now obviously," Djokovic said after his four hours and 11 minutes epic semi-final against Nadal.

"The good thing is that I have a day and a half to rejuvenate and try to regroup, think about my next opponent."

The world number one intended to spend a large part of Saturday resting up before, as he put it, "hopefully being able to be fit to compete in the best-of-five with a guy who is in a great shape".

"It's not the first time that I've played an epic semi-final in a grand slam and then I've had to come back in less than 48 hours and play finals," Djokovic said.

"My recovery abilities are pretty good, I must say, throughout my career. Obviously my physiotherapist will try to do everything possible so I can be fresh.

"Because I played enough tennis, I don't need to train too much. It's really now just about taking things slowly until the day of the finals. I know what I need to do.

"Obviously Tsitsipas, first time in the finals of a grand slam, if I'm not mistaken. For him it's a great achievement, but I'm sure he doesn't want to stop there.

"He's in great form. I think he leads the rankings, race rankings, this year. He's had his best results overall. I think he matured as a player a lot.

"Clay is arguably his best surface. We played an epic five-setter last year in the semis here. I know it's going to be another tough one. I'm hoping I can recharge my batteries as much as I can because I'm going to need some power and energy for that one."

As much as Djokovic might recoil at the possibility of a brutal semi-final taking a heavy toll, there is evidence, contrary to his assessment, that he can struggle to raise his game for a grand slam title match after expending great energy in getting there.

It took him three hours and 54 minutes to score a five-set win over Tsitsipas in last year's Roland Garros semi-finals, and that was followed by a drubbing at Nadal's hands in the final. Djokovic won just seven games.

Before Friday's majestic clash with Nadal, the last time Djokovic had played a four-hour-plus semi-final at the French Open was in 2015 when he fended off Andy Murray in a gruelling five-setter. He went on to lose the final against world number nine Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic also won a four-hour semi-final battle with Wawrinka at the 2013 US Open before losing to Nadal in the final, and earlier that year he fought off Juan Martin del Potro in a magnificent Wimbledon semi-final that lasted four hours and 43 minutes before being beaten by Murray in the title match.

If Djokovic is searching for recent evidence of his ability to follow a marathon semi-final with a match-winning turn in the title match, he would have to go back to Wimbledon in 2018, and even then there were circumstances that to some extent favoured the Serbian.

It took five hours and 15 minutes for Djokovic to overhaul Nadal in their All England Club semi-final which spanned two days, and he went on to demolish South African Kevin Anderson in the final.

However, that was hardly surprising given Anderson needed six hours and 24 minutes on the Friday to get past John Isner in his own semi-final – the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history.

That was after Anderson beat Roger Federer 13-11 in the deciding set of a marathon quarter-final, the upshot being that even if Djokovic was weary for the final after beating Nadal, he was facing a man who was practically out on his feet.

All this being said, Djokovic begins the final as favourite as he seeks a second French Open title in his sixth final appearance, and a 19th grand slam title overall.

Should he win, it would make him just the third man in history to win all four grand slam titles at least twice, after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, and the first man to achieve that feat in the Open Era.

Amid all the talk of the 34-year-old Djokovic needing to physically recover, Tsitsipas' five-set semi-final exertions against Alexander Zverev are rather being overlooked.

That match clocked in at three hours and 37 minutes and will have been mentally and physically sapping for the 22-year-old Greek player, who, as Djokovic accurately pointed out, does lead the ATP Race to Turin standings, the table of 2021 form that decides the line-up for the ATP Finals in November.

Tsitsipas fended off a Zverev comeback, as the German recovered from two sets behind to force a decider on Friday, with the world number five showing serious big-game mettle in turning the momentum back his way.

The man who grew up near Athens, dreaming of playing on Court Philippe Chatrier, took a set off Djokovic when they met on clay in the Rome quarter-finals last month.

Now he has a first grand slam title in his sights, and looks as well equipped as any of the rising generation of young players to carry off multiple majors over the coming years.

"I'm proud of myself. I actually love what I'm doing," Tsitsipas said. "I love that I get to play in this stadium. I'm grateful for every single match that I get to play.

"I'm obviously just blessed to have the opportunity to play against the best and test myself, something that I've always dreamed and wished to happen one day. I'm able to be here and really going for it. I love that."

But as well as soaking in the experience, Tsitsipas wants to show he can be a champion at the highest level.

"It's time for me to go for my chances," he said. "I'm looking forward to that challenge. I'm looking forward to bringing my game to kind of challenge myself to step it up."

Top seed Denis Shapovalov failed to reach the semi-finals of the Stuttgart Open as his busy Friday ended with defeat to Marin Cilic.

Shapovalov had earlier completed a rain-delayed match with Feliciano Lopez, winning in three sets.

However, the Canadian was beaten in two tight sets by former US Open champion Cilic, who prevailed 7-5 7-6 (7-3).

"I felt I was applying a little more pressure during that first set and I capitalised on the couple of break points, which was definitely big, just to give me a bit of extra momentum," Cilic said.

"I also had the two match points at the end of the second set, didn't convert them, but played a really good tie-break. You always have to expect tough battles against top guys like Denis and it was like that today."

Cilic will face Jurij Rodionov after the Austrian came from behind to stun fourth seed Alex de Minaur, a player ranked 120 places above him, 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Shapovalov's Canadian compatriot Felix Auger Aliassime remains in the draw, though, going through to the last four with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (10-8) win over Ugo Humbert in which he hit 17 aces.

Auger Aliassime, the lone seed left in the tournament, is hoping to repeat his run to the final in 2019. Standing in his way will be the sizeable figure of Sam Querrey, who ended wild card Dominic Stephan Stricker's superb tournament.

Teenager Stricker had match point at 5-4 in the second set but Querrey fought back to progress 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3. Querrey won all 14 of his first-serve points in the final set.

Novak Djokovic did not try to play it cool after setting up a dream Roland Garros showdown with Rafael Nadal. 

The world number one defeated Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 Wednesday to secure a semi-final match-up with the 13-time French Open champion. 

Djokovic admitted his meetings with Nadal are "not like any other match" and said he expects a "great battle" Friday when the pair meet for the 58th time. 

"Let's face it, it's the biggest challenge that you can have playing on clay against Nadal on this court in which he has had so much success in his career," Djokovic told a press conference. "In the final stages of a grand slam, it doesn't get bigger than that.

"Of course, each time we face each other, there's that extra tension and expectations. Just vibes are different walking on the court with him.

"But that's why our rivalry has been historic I think for this sport. I've been privileged to play him so many times."

Djokovic holds a narrow edge against the man he called his biggest rival, with 29 victories to Nadal's 28, but the Spaniard has won the last two meetings -- including a straight-sets triumph in the French Open final last year. 

"Obviously different conditions are going to be played on Friday than it was the case in finals of last year, so I'm hopefully going to be able to also perform at the high level than I have, especially in the first two sets in the last year's final.

"The quality and the level of tennis that I've been playing in the last three, four weeks on clay -- Rome, Belgrade and here -- is giving me good sensations and feelings ahead of that match.

"I'm confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn't be here. Let's have a great battle."

Djokovic had to battle Wednesday to defeat the ninth-seeded Italian, letting loose a primal scream when he finally put the match away in the fourth set. 

The Serbian said the crowd was Davis Cup-like before fans were ushered out due to the local curfew. 

"The crowd lifted him up. He was playing some really powerful tennis," Djokovic said. 

"Especially in the third and fourth he served tremendously strong and precise. It was just very difficult to read his serve and play someone like him.

"He's very talented. He can play well from the back of the court. He's got a lethal forehand, dropshots. ... When he's on, it's tough to play him."

Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the semi-final of the French Open after defeating Matteo Berrettini in four sets.

The 18-time grand slam champion, who has only one title to his name at Roland Garros, was somewhere close to his imperious best on Court Philippe Chatrier as world number nine Berrettini's run was halted in a 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 loss.

This is as far as the Italian has got in Paris but Djokovic was determined to let him go no further, the world number one having suffered a scare in the last round as he fell two sets behind to Lorenzo Musetti before Berrettini's compatriot retired hurt.

Djokovic's peerless returning ability was on full display, and will have to be again against the 'King of Clay' Nadal, as he negotiated a tricky test with relatively little fuss.

The Serbian showed laser-like precision off both wings, affording Berrettini precious few opportunities to apply any pressure at all across the first two sets. 

Seeking to become only the second Italian player to defeat the French Open's number one seed after Adriano Panatta did so against Bjorn Borg in 1976, Berrettini could not find the answers to Djokovic's constant probing.

Like Djokovic, Berrettini was handed a walkover in the previous round after Roger Federer withdrew, although he did not have to even take to the court.

The third set offered some small hint that it may have given Berrettini an advantage in terms of freshness as he came through a hard-fought tie-break, fists pumping as he forced the contest late into the Parisian night, meaning the fans in attendance would not be able to see the match to its conclusion.

But a Djokovic break late into an hour-long fourth handed him the victory, prompting passionate, wide-eyed celebrations from the Serbian in the direction of his coaching team.

Data Slam: Djokovic can't be faulted

Opponents looking for any kind of weakness in Djokovic's game might feel some glimmer of hope when they get a look at his second serve. And then that second serve comes and the 34-year-old's variety leaves them befuddled. Djokovic won 65 per cent of the points on his second serve, proving that even when it appeared to door may have been ajar for Berrettini, it was quickly slammed shut.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 44/19
Berrettini – 55/51

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 10/1
Berrettini – 11/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 4/9
Berrettini – 0/3

Rafael Nadal remains on course for a record-extending 14th French Open title after overcoming Diego Schwartzman in an intense quarter-final on Wednesday.

Schwartzman ended Nadal's run of 36 consecutive sets won at Roland Garros to level up the contest at one set apiece, but the Spaniard's quality told in the end.

The third seed held serve throughout a tense third set and eased through the fourth to take the match 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 in two hours and 45 minutes in front of 5,000 spectators.

Nadal, who won nine games in a row to see out the contest, will now face either Novak Djokovic or Matteo Berrettini for a place in the final.

Like Nadal, Schwartzman had not dropped a set at this year's tournament heading into this showdown, but the Argentinian was broken in the sixth and eighth games of the first to fall behind.

However, Schwartzman played some sublime and attacking tennis to instantly hit back by twice breaking Nadal in the second set.

In doing so, he became just the third player to win a set in more than one match against Nadal at Roland Garros after Djokovic and Roger Federer.

A tight third set followed, with both players holding until the ninth game when Nadal took the second of his break points with a slice-lob combo.

That proved to be a turning point in the match as Nadal claimed the following game to wrap up the set and dominated a swift fourth set to book his place in a 14th semi-final.

Daniil Medvedev was not impressed by the empty stands at Court Philippe-Chatrier as he bowed out of the French Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev, who had never previously won a match in the main draw at Roland Garros, advanced to the quarter-finals to meet old foe Tsitsipas on Tuesday.

But the 21:00 curfew in Paris meant the match, which started at the same time, was played without a crowd in the French capital.

Tsitsipas won 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-5, but second seed Medvedev was keen to highlight the importance of supporters as he questioned the tournament's motives.

Recapping a scene from Netflix documentary 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive', Medvedev said: "When the pandemic started, they were in Australia ready to race, and they asked Lewis Hamilton what he thought about racing in the conditions the world was in.

"He said: 'I don't know what we are doing here.' And so they asked him: 'Why do you think they make you race?' And he said: 'Cash is king.'

"It was the same here. Our match was definitely the match of the day, so Roland Garros preferred Amazon to people. It's easy as that.

"Actually I want to say that I think it's good when you have sponsors and everything because that's how we tennis players can make money, but actually we have more people this year in Roland Garros, we have Amazon, I don't know if they had it last year, and we get 15 per cent less prize money.

"So the question is: where is the Amazon money?"

It was Medvedev's latest complaint, having had issues with noise elsewhere in the stadium and the camera angle on the big screen during his straight-sets defeat.

But the rest of the post-match media duties largely focused on the end of the contest as an awful underarm serve from the Russian handed fifth seed Tsitsipas victory.

Medvedev described the move as "tactical", but Tsitsipas said: "[It was] a very millennial shot, so true.

"Once he took a short break, I saw he kind of stopped. I felt like there was something coming up, so at that point I think I got prepared for it."

The pair have argued in the past, notably at the Miami Open in 2018 – one of six Medvedev wins in seven meetings prior to this match.

"In other sports, we can see these rivalries where people actually just to heat it up," the world number two said on Tuesday.

"Maybe sometimes they don't even hate each other but they try to say some things to each other during the match or things like that.

"But tennis is not like this, so I don't think it's ever going to be between me and him again any sort of fight or anything.

"I find it maybe a pity because it could be much funnier."

Daniil Medvedev's wait for a first major title will not end in Paris this month after he lost his French Open quarter-final to Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.

The Russian has previously lost in the final at Flushing Meadows and Melbourne but had never been past the opening round at Roland Garros prior to this run.

Four largely routine victories encouraged hopes of a triumph that would make Medvedev the world number one for the first time until he faced Tsitsipas, who had won only one of their prior seven meetings.

A second Tsitsipas success followed in striking fashion, the number two seed toppled 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-5. Alexander Zverev awaits Tsitsipas in the last four.

Tsitsipas was on the front foot from the outset and did not have to wait long for his first break and a 3-1 lead, one he could have extended further before serving out the opener in dominant fashion.

And a brutal break to love early in the second, with Medvedev struggling to keep up, further fastened the Greek's grip on the match.

But the sixth game belatedly brought some resistance that prompted Tsitsipas to send a wild forehand long, granting Medvedev momentum for the first time as he then stylishly held.

That progress seemed to slow with a change of ends and an apparent complaint about off-court noise in a supposedly empty stadium, yet Medvedev dug in again and then forged two break points, only to squander both.

And Tsitsipas' ability to outmanoeuvre his opponent came to the fore again in a one-sided tie-break.

A change of shirt did not alter Medvedev's fortunes for the better, as he worked hard to craft a break in the third but then immediately ceded his advantage.

Another distraction – this time the camera angle on the big screen – prompted a debate with the umpire, but Medvedev was by that stage serving to stay in the tournament and merely delayed the inevitable, confirmed when Tsitsipas blasted an awful underarm serve back past his forehand.


Data Slam: Medvedev plays the blame game

"If I lose, it's your fault," Medvedev told a bemused official after appearing to prove his point regarding the overhead screen. The Russian was 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 5-4 down and had long since hampered his own hopes.

Although there were fine margins in the second and third sets, that was enough to see Tsitsipas through after dominating an opener in which Medvedev won only four points against the serve, failing to forge a single break point.


WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Tsitsipas – 33/24
Medvedev – 31/44

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tsitsipas – 3/1
Medvedev – 5/0

BREAK POINTS WON

Tsitsipas – 4/7
Medvedev – 2/8

Alexander Zverev finally advanced to the semi-finals of the French Open with a comfortable 6-4 6-1 6-1 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday.

The sixth seed was playing in the last eight at Roland Garros for the third time in four seasons but had twice previously fallen at this stage.

Some inconsistent early serving aside, another slip-up never appeared likely as Zverev secured swift progress on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Next is the winner of Daniil Medvedev versus Stefanos Tsitsipas, the other quarter-final in the bottom half of the draw that should prove rather more testing for the victor.

A peculiar first set saw only four games stay on serve as both players showed signs of frustration, first with Zverev offering an incredulous response to a tight but correct line call that allowed his opponent to hold.

Zverev's anger was short-lived, though, as error-strewn serving on both sides of the net ensured regular opportunities.

Davidovich Fokina inadvertently threw his racket into the stands after sending a deep forehand wide and another poor shot into the net sealed the opener for Zverev, who seized on the Spaniard's sloppy play once more to lead early in the second.

This was not an advantage he would cede, racing through the set in only 26 minutes as a tiring Davidovich Fokina won a meagre 11 points.

The struggling underdog saved two break points at the start of the third but then went long to tee up another opportunity that was duly taken, quickly bringing the finish line into view for Zverev.

Indeed, just 21 minutes were required this time to see out the match as Zverev's power made light work of the 22-year-old with two more ruthless breaks.


Data Slam: Second serves sting Spaniard

Neither player served well in the first set, but Zverev crucially managed to win 44 per cent of points on second serve. That modest return gave him the edge over Davidovich Fokina's 26 per cent, even as the Spaniard had two double-faults to his opponent's three.

Once Zverev had the lead, this was an uphill task for Davidovich Fokina, who had run a marathon to reach this stage, notably outlasting Casper Ruud over four hours and 35 minutes.
 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Zverev – 24/16
Davidovich Fokina – 16/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Zverev – 3/3
Davidovich Fokina – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Zverev – 9/15
Davidovich Fokina – 3/6

There were no shocks at the Stuttgart Open on Tuesday as Marin Cilic and both seeds advanced.

The grass-court swing got under way with four main-draw matches but little drama in Germany.

One-time Wimbledon finalist Cilic staved off the only two break points he faced against wildcard Rudolf Molleker and seized all five opportunities of his own.

A 7-5 6-3 win was enough to set up a second-round meeting with fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Dustin Brown in the top half of the draw.

The defeated pair were the only home hopefuls in action, while number six seed Ugo Humbert and Lloyd Harris each also progressed.

Andy Murray could hold the key to Iga Swiatek converting her clay-court mastery to the grass of Wimbledon.

Reigning French Open champion Swiatek has powered through to the quarter-finals this year at Roland Garros, and the 20-year-old looks the player to beat.

But soon attentions will switch from the clay in Paris to the grass of London, and Swiatek feels she could do with some pointers.

As Swiatek wrapped up a straight-sets win over Marta Kostyuk on Monday in Paris, Murray tweeted, "Love watching @iga_swiatek", followed by a heart emoji.

Swiatek responded: "Thank you Sir Andy! Are you by any chance up for a practice? I really need to improve my skills on grass."

Andy Roddick is also a fan of the 20-year-old Polish player, with the former US Open winner responding to Murray's initial tweet by saying: "Agreed. She is awesome."

Murray has been champion twice at Wimbledon, beating Novak Djokovic in 2013 and Milos Raonic in 2016.

It remains to be seen how Swiatek gets on when she heads to the All England Club, having made only one previous appearance there in the women's singles, losing in the first round to Viktorija Golubic two years ago.

She can point to some proven prowess, however, having been girls' champion in 2018.

Swiatek has a French Open campaign to complete before she can seriously begin to think about the grass, with a last-eight clash against Maria Sakkari coming up on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal continued on his serene path to a 14th French Open title by seeing off Jannik Sinner in straight sets.

Having seen Italian compatriot Lorenzo Musetti take Novak Djokovic to five sets earlier on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Sinner made a strong start against the King of Clay.

However, whereas Musetti took two sets from the world number one before being outpunched by Djokovic, Sinner was swiftly reeled back in after spurning a chance to win the first set.

The 19-year-old's spirited efforts were undermined by 40 unforced errors, offering Nadal far too many opportunities to press home the gulf in class and experience in a 7-5 6-3 6-0 win.

Nadal held to love in his first service game and then immediately broke Sinner. However, he was uncharacteristically sloppy across his next two service games, sending down three double faults, as Sinner reversed the tide to surge into a 4-2 lead.

Yet the teenager crumbled as he failed to serve out the set, surrendering a break to love with a double fault.

Then tasked with serving to stay in the set, Sinner had no answer for Nadal, who was now in full flow, an exquisite drop shot bringing up three set points. Sinner saved one, but Nadal's defence forced him into a forehand error that handed the Spaniard his 33rd consecutive set at Roland Garros.

A scorching cross-court backhand saw Nadal craft an early break in the second and he seemingly had a stranglehold on the contest after going 4-0 up.

Sinner surprisingly rattled off the next three games to get back on serve, only to instantly cede the advantage back to Nadal, who subsequently wrapped up the second set with a powerful serve down the middle.

And there was no fightback from Sinner in the third as Nadal coasted to a last-eight clash with Diego Schwartzman, who won earlier against Jan-Lennard Struff.

Novak Djokovic came from two sets down against Lorenzo Musetti on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for a record 12th consecutive year after his opponent retired in the fifth set.

The world number one went into the contest with the 19-year-old having not dropped a set at these championships but found himself in big trouble after a gruelling first couple of hours.

It felt like a different match entirely after that, as Djokovic won 16 of the final 17 games before Musetti retired with the scores at 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-0 4-0 in the 2016 champion's favour.

The Serbian seemed unsettled by Musetti's unpredictable early approach, the teenager mixing up forehand speeds and backhand passes to good effect after an early exchange of breaks.

It looked like Djokovic had control of the opening tie-break only for Musetti to win five out of six points to lead 6-5. Two rasping forehands soon secured the set after a Djokovic error.

Belief in a shock upset really did begin to grow when Musetti took a 3-1 lead in the second set, at which point Djokovic literally took his hat off to his opponent. Whether it was psychological or his cap really was a bother, a bare-headed Djokovic promptly broke back to love.

Djokovic's error count dropped from 20 in the first set to 15 in the second, but the momentum still seemed to be with the Italian, who continued to paint the lines from both sides of the court even when it seemed impossible: early in the second tie-break, a reflex lob from the net somehow bounced on the baseline as his opponent watched in disbelief.

Deserved as his lead was, there was still a feeling that, should Musetti's standards slip even a touch, the door to the comeback would be open. Djokovic seemed to sense as much, returning from a bathroom break to power his way through the third set in just 28 minutes, less than half the time of each of the first two.

Suddenly, doubt crept into Musetti's play as Djokovic began to dictate. He won 16 points in a row to take a 4-0 lead in the fourth and broke again with the sort of drop-shot winner that Musetti had anticipated with ease in the opening two hours.

Djokovic was troubled by his lower back before the fifth set and needed treatment to his hand after somehow winning the first point on the Musetti serve despite falling heavily in the dirt.

Yet it was Musetti whose body could simply no longer keep up, his retirement ensuring Djokovic will now face Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.
 

Data Slam: Djokovic kept his cool as Musetti froze

Djokovic is rarely shy about showing his emotions on court, so it was interesting to see not a single outburst even after he fell 2-0 down.

Each player had won 85 points in those first two sets and Djokovic seemed to know this was no one-sided affair. When he moved up a gear and Musetti started to falter in mind and body, it was a totally different contest, Musetti winning just 18 points in the final 17 games.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 53/42
Musetti – 30/49

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 11/2
Musetti – 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 9/9
Musetti – 2/4

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Tournament director Guy Forget said: "The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night.

"We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

Federer entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 win-loss record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month, and little was expected from him.

However, three wins on the spin showed he is not finished yet at the highest level, with his withdrawal suggesting he wants to preserve himself for Wimbledon, which starts at the end of the month.

Federer had been due to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the last 16 on Monday.

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Roger Federer returned a compliment to Andy Murray and looked ahead to a potential grass-court meeting the morning after a gruelling third-round win at Roland Garros.

Federer made round four at the French Open but was so drained by the experience that he suggested he could yet withdraw from the tournament as he looks to build up fitness ahead of Wimbledon.

The Swiss superstar entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month.

However, Federer has strung together three straight wins in Paris, beating Dominik Koepfer in the last 32 in a match that finished in the early hours of Sunday in the French capital.

The match started at 21:00 local time (20:00 GMT), in line with a coronavirus-enforced curfew that ensured the stands were empty on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Despite the strange experience and a determined opponent, Federer came through in four sets after three tie-breaks to continue his pursuit of a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

During the match, which finished at close to 01:00 local time (00:00 GMT), fellow great Murray posted on Twitter: "I'm not bothered by the outcome of this match at all.

"Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of two knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12:30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you [love]."

Murray himself has overcome a series of major injuries to remain on the ATP Tour, even backtracking on a retirement pledge in 2019.

So, Federer replied on Sunday: "Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it. See you on the [grass]."

There was no further comment on potentially quitting the French Open, where Federer is appearing for only the second time since the start of 2016 – he made the semi-finals two years ago.

His sublime major form has slowed over the past decade, making only nine finals compared to 22 in the previous 10 years.

If Federer is able to continue, he faces a tough ask on Monday, taking on Matteo Berrettini, who has become the first Italian to reach the last 16 of all four slams in the Open Era.

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