Decoding Roger Federer and his performances over the years in the French Open

Roger Federer is the epitome of elegance and grace. His exquisite shotmaking and fantastic footwork have entertained tennis for the last 23 years. 

Federer has dominated on the pristine grass at Wimbledon with 8 titles. The Swiss mastered the hardcourts of Melbourne with 6 titles at the Australian Open. He ruled the roost in New York with 5 US Open titles from 2004 to 2008.

However, Federer won the French Open only once (2009) in his career. The Swiss superstar reached the finals at Roland Garros 4 times (2006 to 2008 and 2011). One player denied him a shot at the title 4 times, it was the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal. 

Ahead of the Swiss maestro's comeback at the French Open 2021 where he will face Denis Istomin in the first round, SportCo analyzes the win-loss record of Federer on clay.



record on Clay

Result in the French Open

Lost in the 1st round 

to Patrick Rafter


Alex Corretja beat him in the 

4th round in straight sets


Alex Corretja beat him in the 

Q-F in straight sets


Hicham Arazi defeated him in the 

1st round in straight sets


Lost in the 1st round to 

Luis Horna in straight sets


Gustavo Kuerten beat the 

top-seeded Federer 

in the third round in 3 sets.


4th seeded Nadal beat top seed 

Roger in the semis in 4 sets.


2nd seed Nadal defeated top seed 

Federer in the finals in 4 sets


2nd seed Nadal beats Roger again

 in the finals in 4 sets


Nadal routed the top seed 

Federer in 3 sets in the finals.


Federer wins his first French Open

with a 3-set victory over 

Robin Soderling in the finals


5th seed Soderling stunned the 

Swiss star in 4 sets in the quarters


Top seed Nadal once again beat 

Federer in 4 sets in the finals


Top seed Novak Djokovic 

overcame Federer in straight sets 

in the semifinals of the French Open


6th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 

outhit Federer in 3 sets in the 

Q-Fs of the French Open 2013


18th seed Ernests Gulbis 

shocked Federer in 

5 sets in the 4th round


8th seed Stan Wawrinka beat his 

compatriot Federer in straight sets 

in the Q-Fs of French Open 2015


Did not play at Roland Garros 

due to a back injury


Skipped the entire clay-court 

season to prepare for Wimbledon


Federer again missed the 

entire clay-court season 

to prepare for Wimbledon


Lost to the defending champion 

Nadal in straight sets in the S-Fs


Did not play the French Open

 due to a right knee surgery


Will play Denis Istomin 

in the first round 

Federer Wins French Open Title 2009
Special moment: After losing in the final 3 years in a row, Federer laid his hands on the elusive silverware, his first French Open title in 2009. Image Credits - Getty Images

Analysis of Federer’s run in the French Open in his career:

  • Roger Federer peaked at Paris from 2006 to 2009 reaching four finals in a row.
  • He had a great chance to win the French Open from 2006 to 2008. However, the Swiss could not handle Nadal’s relentless defense and topspin heavy forehand.
  • 2009 was a special year for Federer as he clinched his first-and-only French Open title.
  • With his archrival Rafael Nadal beaten by Soderling in 4 sets in the fourth round, Federer used the golden opportunity.
  • The Swiss star edged past the fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in five sets in the semis.
  • Roger Federer played his A-game in the finals with a straight-set win against the dangerous Soderling.
  • The Swiss legend suffered upsets against Soderling in 2010, Tsonga in 2013, and Gulbis in 2014.
  •  Fans of Roger Federer missed him at the French Open from 2016 to 2018 as he gave more preference to his body and did not want to get injured ahead of Wimbledon.
  • He made a strong comeback in 2019 and defeated Next-Gen players like Lorenzo Sonego and Casper Ruud in straight sets followed by a four-set victory against countryman Wawrinka in the quarters.
  • But who could deny Federer the crown at the French Open except for one man? Nadal once again brushed past the third seed Roger in straight sets in the French Open 2019 semifinals.
  • After losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals in 2020, Federer missed the entire season due to two arthroscopic surgeries on his right knee.

How far can Roger Federer go in the French Open 2021?

Roger Federer at French Open 2021
Will Federer go all the way? The 39-year-old will have to play top-notch tennis to survive his difficult draw. Image Credits - Roland Garros - Twitter
Stage of the TournamentPlayer NameHead to Head RecordExpectations
First RoundDenis Istomin7-0The Swiss can be sluggish playing his first match on clay against the qualifier Istomin. 
Second RoundMarin Cilic9-1Cilic’s big serve and powerful forehand can unsettle Federer.
Third RoundTaylor Fritz2-0Fritz will aim to play aggressively while Federer will thwart him with his one-handed backhand.
Fourth RoundMatteo Berrettini2-0Berrettini is in better form having won a title in Belgrade. Can go to 4 sets with close tiebreakers.
QuarterfinalsNovak Djokovic23-27 overall and 4-4 on clayClassic encounter, Djokovic’s superior form will help him win in a tight 5-setter.
SemifinalsRafael Nadal16-24 overall and 0-6 in the French OpenIf Federer manages to win against Novak, he may not have enough gas to battle Rafa and his losing streak vs Nadal here may continue.
FinalsStefanos Tsitsipas/ Dominic Thiem2-2 and 2-5Tsitsipas has a 16-3 win-loss record on clay in 2021 and Thiem has never lost to Federer on clay. The Next-Gen duo will outlast Federer.

The 39-year old Federer himself admitted he is unlikely to win the French Open. The Swiss legend has been at ease in the practice sessions against Aslan Karatsev, David Goffin, and Mackenzie McDonald. 

Scintillating stats about Federer’s record on clay

Player NameRoger Federer
Q-Fs at the French Open11 out of the past 12 times
S-Fs at the French Open

8 times

(Win-Loss record is 5-3)

Total wins in Roland Garros70
Total clay-court titles11
Winning % on Clay75.9%

% of Points won on the 

First Serve in last 1 year


% of Tiebreaks won 

in last year


“I feel like in practice I have been playing better, but then again as we know, matches are a different animal,” said Federer indicating the big challenge ahead with a tough draw in the French Open 2021. 

So dear fans, how deep will Roger Federer go at the French Open 2021? Let us know in the comments below. 

Featured Image Credits - Getty Images

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