Last Updated on May 26, 2023
The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious tennis competitions in the world. Known for its red clay courts, this tournament tests the stamina and strategic prowess of even the most experienced players. Among the many greats who have graced the courts of Roland Garros, Swiss maestro Roger Federer stands tall. In this article, we delve into Federer’s history at the French Open, examining his triumphs and struggles throughout the years.
Federer has made it to the French Open finals five times, winning the championship once in 2009, and he has been a fixture at the tournament since his debut in 1999.
Federer’s Results At Roland Garros
Spanning across a period of 23 years from 1999 to 2021, Roger Federer’s performance at the French Open paints a picture of a player with consistent and enduring prowess. Of the 19 times he participated in this Grand Slam (excluding the years he did not play), Federer reached the final roughly 26% of the time (5 out of 19), claiming his lone victory in 2009. He made it to the semifinals, including the years he reached the final, 21% of the time (4 out of 19). Additionally, Federer advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond approximately 58% of the time (11 out of 19), not including the years he went further into the tournament. In his early years, Federer faced a few initial round exits, but from 2004 onwards, he consistently reached at least the round of 16 in 81% of his appearances (13 out of 16), further highlighting his exceptional performance on the clay courts of Roland Garros. Here is a table of his performances each year:
|2021||round of 16|
|2014||round of 16|
|2000||round of 16|
Federer’s Road to the Finals
As we can see from the table, Federer reached the final of the French Open on five occasions – in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011. Let’s take a closer look at his road to the finals in each of these years.
|11.06.||Nadal – Federer||F||1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6|
|09.06.||Federer – Nalbandian||SF||3-6, 6-4, 5-2|
|06.06.||Federer – Ancic||QF||6-4, 6-3, 6-4|
|04.06.||Federer – Berdych||R16||6-3, 6-2, 6-3|
|02.06.||Federer – Massu||3R||6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5|
|31.05.||Federer – Falla||2R||6-1, 6-4, 6-3|
|28.05.||Federer – Hartfield||1R||7-5, 7-6, 6-2|
In the 2006 French Open, Federer displayed exceptional form and focus. He reached the final after defeating a slew of top-ranking players. His journey began with a strong first round win against Diego Hartfield, where he won with scores of 7-5, 7-6, 6-2. Federer then displayed remarkable control in his second-round match against Alejandro Falla, winning with 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
In the third round, Federer had a little more of a challenge in his match against Nicolas Massu. Despite a strong start with 6-1, 6-2, Massu managed to win the third set with 7-6, extending the match to a fourth set. However, Federer regained his composure and closed the match with a 7-5 win.
Moving forward, Federer continued his impressive form into the round of 16, where he defeated Tomas Berdych with a commanding 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory. In the quarterfinals, he overcame Mario Ancic with a straight-set win of 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
In the semifinal, Federer faced a formidable opponent in David Nalbandian. Despite losing the first set 3-6, Federer made a powerful comeback to win the match with final scores of 6-4, 5-2, solidifying his place in the final.
However, the final match of the French Open 2006 saw Federer up against clay-court king Rafael Nadal. Despite a promising start where Federer took the first set 6-1, Nadal came back strong to win the match with 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6.
In a post-match interview with the New York Times, Federer reflected on his performance in the final match of the 2006 French Open. He admitted, “I, unfortunately, did not play the match that I had hoped to play. I made too many errors, especially after I won the first set so easily. Usually, I don’t let an opportunity like that escape.”
Video: Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer Highlights | French Open 2006 Men’s Final
|10.06.||Nadal – Federer||F||6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|08.06.||Federer – Davydenko||SF||7-5, 7-6, 7-6|
|05.06.||Federer – Robredo||QF||7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2|
|03.06.||Federer – Youzhny||R16||7-6, 6-4, 6-4|
|01.06.||Federer – Starace||3R||6-2, 6-3, 6-0|
|30.05.||Federer – Ascione||2R||6-1, 6-2, 7-6|
|28.05.||Federer – Russell||1R||6-4, 6-2, 6-4|
His road to the final commenced with a strong start in the first round against Michael Russell of the United States, where Federer displayed his powerful serves and impeccable footwork to win in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
In the second round, Federer faced French player Thierry Ascione. Despite some initial resistance, Federer again dominated the match, with the scoreline of 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 reflecting the Swiss maestro’s superiority on the court.
The third round brought Federer up against Italian player Potito Starace. Federer continued to display an impressive performance and emerged victorious with an even more resounding 6-2, 6-3, 6-0.
In the Round of 16, Federer met with Russian player Mikhail Youzhny. A challenging match ensued, with Federer eventually coming out on top in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, demonstrating his incredible ability to maintain composure under pressure.
The quarterfinals pitted Federer against another seasoned player, Tommy Robredo from Spain. The match was slightly more challenging, with Robredo taking a set off Federer. But Federer demonstrated his remarkable comeback ability and won the match 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.
In the semifinals, Federer faced Nikolay Davydenko from Russia. After a thrilling contest, Federer emerged victorious, winning the match 7-5, 7-6, 7-6, securing his spot in the final.
The final of the 2007 Roland Garros was an unforgettable contest between Federer and Rafael Nadal, one of the most prominent rivalries in the sport’s history. After a thrilling contest, Nadal eventually won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, but Federer’s performance throughout the tournament and his journey to the final is still remembered as a testament to his skill, talent, and resilience.
Reflecting on his loss, Federer, then 25, provided a candid account of his feelings in an interview with the New York Times.
“Well, you can put it any way you want,” Federer said. “All I know, at the end of the day, is that I’m disappointed today, and I don’t care less about the way I’ve played over the last 10 months or 10 years. I wanted to win this match, and I didn’t succeed. So, of course, it’s a bit sad.”
Video: Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer Highlights | French Open 2007 Men’s Final
|08.06.||Nadal – Federer||F||6-1, 6-3, 6-0|
|06.06.||Federer – Monfils||SF||6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5|
|04.06.||Federer – Gonzalez||QF||2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4|
|02.06.||Federer – Benneteau||R16||6-4, 7-5, 7-5|
|31.05.||Federer – Ancic||3R||6-3, 6-4, 6-2|
|29.05.||Federer – Montanes||2R||6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 6-4|
|26.05.||Federer – Querrey||1R||6-4, 6-4, 6-3|
Federer started his campaign in the 2008 French Open with a confident win against Sam Querrey in the first round, besting him in straight sets (6-4, 6-4, 6-3). His superior form continued into the second round, where he faced Albert Montanes. Despite an initial hiccup, dropping the first set in a tiebreak, Federer came back strong, winning the next three sets and the match (6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 6-4).
In the third round, Federer faced Mario Ancic, and again displayed his supremacy on the clay court, securing a straight-sets victory (6-3, 6-4, 6-2). This positive trend continued into the round of 16, where he was matched up against Julien Benneteau. Despite Benneteau’s best efforts, Federer won the match comfortably in straight sets (6-4, 7-5, 7-5).
The quarterfinals saw Federer pitted against Fernando Gonzalez. The match started on a sour note for Federer, as he lost the first set. But the Swiss maestro bounced back quickly, winning the next three sets to take the match (2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4).
In the semifinals, Federer was matched against Gael Monfils. After a hard-fought match, Federer prevailed, winning in four sets (6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5) to secure his place in the final.
However, in the final, Federer faced his arch-rival, Rafael Nadal. Despite Federer’s best efforts, Nadal proved to be the superior player on the day, besting Federer in straight sets (6-1, 6-3, 6-0).
Reflecting on the final, Federer provided a mature analysis of his performance and Nadal’s exceptional play in an interview with ESPN. “He dominated from the first point until the end,” Federer noted, acknowledging Nadal’s powerful performance. He further added, “It’s the strongest Rafa that I’ve ever seen. He was more dominant than the previous years.”
Video: Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer Highlights | French Open 2008 Men’s Final
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|05.06.||Nadal – Federer||F||7-5, 7-63, 5-7, 6-1|
|03.06.||Federer – Djokovic||SF||7-65, 6-3, 3-6, 7-65|
|31.05.||Federer – Monfils||QF||6-4, 6-3, 7-63|
|29.05.||Federer – Wawrinka||R16||6-3, 6-2, 7-5|
|27.05.||Federer – Tipsarevic||3R||6-1, 6-4, 6-3|
|25.05.||Federer – Teixeira||2R||6-3, 6-0, 6-2|
|23.05.||Federer – Lopez||1R||6-3, 6-4, 7-63|
Federer started his journey to the final with a convincing victory over Lopez in the first round. The Swiss Maestro asserted his dominance right from the start, winning the match 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3). Federer then moved on to face Teixeira in the second round, where he delivered a masterclass performance, brushing aside his opponent 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.
In the third round, Federer faced a tougher competitor, Tipsarevic. However, Federer once again demonstrated his prowess, winning the match in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. In the Round of 16, Federer faced his fellow countryman Wawrinka. Despite the familiar opposition, Federer did not waver and emerged victorious, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
The quarterfinal saw Federer up against Monfils, a player known for his remarkable athleticism and shot-making. Yet again, Federer didn’t drop a set, winning 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(3).
The semifinal was arguably the most challenging match for Federer. He was up against Djokovic, who at the time was on an impressive winning streak. In an epic encounter that kept spectators on the edge of their seats, Federer triumphed over Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5).
Unfortunately, Federer’s journey in Roland Garros 2011 ended with a loss in the final to his great rival, Rafael Nadal. After an intense battle, Nadal won the match 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1.
Reflecting on the match and his opponent’s performance in an interview with ESPN, Federer shared, “He plays better against the better ones, and that’s what he showed today. He’s a great champion, on clay, especially.”
Video: Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer Highlights | French Open 2011 Men’s Final
Roger Federer’s Path To Triumph At The French Open
|07.06.||Federer – Soderling||F||6-1, 7-61, 6-4|
|05.06.||Federer – Del Potro||SF||3-6, 7-62, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4|
|03.06.||Federer – Monfils||QF||7-66, 6-2, 6-4|
|01.06.||Federer – Haas||R16||64-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2|
|30.05.||Federer – Mathieu||3R||4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4|
|28.05.||Federer – Acasuso||2R||7-68, 5-7, 7-62, 6-2|
|25.05.||Federer – Martin||1R||6-4, 6-3, 6-2|
In the first round of the tournament, Federer was up against Alberto Martin of Spain. Federer asserted his dominance early in the match, winning with a comfortable score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Federer then faced Jose Acasuso in the second round. The match was competitive, but Federer came out on top with a scoreline of 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2.
The Swiss maestro’s third round opponent was French player Paul-Henri Mathieu. Federer had to come back from a set down but won the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
The round of 16 presented a more significant challenge for Federer, as he faced Tommy Haas of Germany. After dropping the first two sets, Federer displayed his characteristic resolve to storm back and win the next three sets, clinching the match 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
In the quarterfinals, Federer played against home favorite Gael Monfils. Despite the crowd cheering for his opponent, Federer managed to win the match in straight sets: 7-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The semifinal was an epic five-setter against Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. Federer again had to recover from being two sets to one down to secure his spot in the final with a 3-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.
Finally, in the final, Federer faced Robin Soderling, who had notably defeated Rafael Nadal earlier in the tournament. Federer, however, was not to be denied, and he clinched his first French Open title with a straight-sets victory: 6-1, 7-6, 6-4.
“It might be the greatest victory of my career,” said the then 27-year-old Swiss player, reflecting on his maiden French Open win during a Reuters interview. This victory equaled Pete Sampras’s record of 14 grand slam titles and made Federer the sixth man in the history of tennis to win all four majors.
The significance of this win extended beyond the statistics, as it released Federer from the pressure that had been building over the years. “It takes away so much pressure. Now, I can play in peace for the rest of my career,” he expressed.
Video: Roger Federer vs Robin Söderling Highlights | French Open 2009 Men’s Final
The legacy of Roger Federer in the annals of the French Open is one of remarkable consistency and enduring excellence, even amidst the intense challenges posed by the red clay of Roland Garros. Despite reaching the finals five times, Federer captured the championship only once in 2009. Yet, his consistent performance and the sheer level of his competitiveness, making it to the quarterfinals or beyond almost 60% of the time, attest to his mastery and versatility. Whether facing off against arch-rival Rafael Nadal or navigating his path through the tournament, Federer’s journey at the French Open remains a testament to his legendary status in the world of tennis. Even though the clay courts were not his most successful battleground, his tenacity and skill always shone brightly, illuminating the tennis world with performances to remember.