(BBC) – Swiss eighth seed Roger Federer regained his composure during a heated battle with Croatia’s Marin Cilic to reach the French Open third round.
Federer, 39, had some testy exchanges with the umpire on his way to a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(7-4), 6-2 win on the Paris clay.
Top seed Novak Djokovic produced a focussed performance to reach the third round for a 16th consecutive year.
The 34-year-old Serb won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in his first career meeting with tricky Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.
Djokovic will face Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, ranked 93rd in the world, in the last 32.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion is aiming for a second title in Paris to follow up his sole win in 2016.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal plays his second-round match in the night session on Chatrier, taking on France’s Richard Gasquet for the right to face British number two Cameron Norrie in the next stage.
While the Spaniard has won a record 13 titles at Roland Garros and is the favourite for another, he is seeded third behind Djokovic and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev because the seeding system is based on the current world rankings. Cilic complained Federer was taking too long to get his towel between receiving points, leading to the Swiss being warned by umpire Emmanuel Joseph and then having a long discussion about it All three players find themselves in the same half of the Roland Garros draw – the first time that this has happened at a major tournament.
Having barely played since the 2020 Australian Open following two knee operations, Federer has been keen to dampen expectations on only his second visit to Roland Garros since 2015.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion says he is focussing on being in prime shape for next month’s Wimbledon – where he has won a record eight men’s singles titles – although privately may harbour higher hopes of a deep run on the Paris clay. After an impressive opening win against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, he faced a step up in quality against former US Open champion Cilic.
Other than in a ragged second set, where Federer lost his cool with the umpire after being warned for taking too long between points, the Swiss star played fluently throughout and looked to be moving well.
“I was a bit surprised by the level I played because I didn’t play so much lately,” said Federer, who faces 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer of Germany next.
“I was a bit on and off, but I served well in the tie-break. I am very pleased with the result.”
On riling Cilic and the subsequent discussion with umpire Emmanuel Joseph, he added: “I just feel like it was a misunderstanding on many levels.
“I didn’t feel like I was playing particularly slow. I always feel like I don’t make my opponent wait very much, but clearly Marin wanted to go faster. I didn’t realise that.
“I told him, I also haven’t played so much lately that I’m not quite understanding the rhythm and I guess I’m just ‘new’ to the new tour.
“It was quite interesting to live through it. It got a little energy to the match, which I liked.”