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Federer Relishing ‘Outsider’ Status At Roland Garros

Roger Federer has won more Grand Slams than anyone (20), spent more weeks at No. 1 than anyone (310), and he owns the Career Grand Slam, which includes his 2009 Roland Garros title.

But to the third-seeded Federer, those accomplishments mean little this fortnight at Roland Garros, his first in Paris since 2015. To the 37-year-old Swiss, he’s the “outsider” looking in on the favourites, such as 11-time champion Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

It’s nice to be an outsider. That’s how I feel, anyhow. Just see how it goes. I know when Wimbledon comes around, sure, I’ll be probably a higher favourite. That’s OK, too. I’m happy that I’m there where I am,” Federer said.

The Swiss returned to a packed Court Philippe Chatrier without drama on Sunday, day one of the season’s second Grand Slam, advancing 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego. And although the fan support remains enthusiastic for Federer in Paris, he is viewing his return differently than past experiences at Roland Garros.

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For many years it was either, if I don’t win, it’s a disappointment, and you explain yourself in the press room. People don’t understand why you lost,” Federer said.

But now, he said, “I feel like if I lost first round or in the final or wherever it is, people would be, ‘OK, that could have happened.’

I like that approach for me also once in a while. It relaxes you on the bigger points maybe, or it relaxes you subconsciously as you walk through the grounds and go to practice and go to the press room,” he said.

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Federer, and athletes in all sports, have been known to downplay expectations and set the bar low for their future performances. But Federer insisted he’s being honest.

This is not a show I’m putting on. This is the truth. I really don’t know how far I can go in this event, and I am very happy with my first round. It was a really good performance,” Federer said.

The Swiss also shared why he, with four children and a wife, still travels the world and plays in events such as Roland Garros: Pure passion.

“I love the ATP Tour,” he said. “I love to play. The traveling, to me, doesn’t bother me too much. I feel like I have a lot of friends around the world, so it’s nice to see them as well. I think that’s also helpful, going to places and getting to see my old friends I only see maybe once a year. [I’m] just very happy with how things are going on the Tour.”

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