Somdev Devvarman recalls French Open clash with Roger Federer

Somdev thought he was in the best form of his career but the Swiss master showed at Roland Garros why he was king of tennis.

By Rahul Venkat

It's a daunting prospect for anyone: facing Roger Federer firing on all cylinders.

London 2012 Olympian Somdev Devvarman has first hand experience of what that feels like having encountered the Swiss maestro at the French Open in 2013.

Having just returned to the ATP Tour after a shoulder surgery, Somdev Devvarman had breezed through to the main draw at Roland Garros.

The Indian then followed up with a straight-sets victory over Spaniard Daniel Munoz-De La Nava in the first round.

Devvarman’s form combined with Roger Federer’s apparent weakness on clay led many to believe that it would be the Indian tennis ace’s best chance of beating the Swiss legend.

“I was pumped because I was playing in a big court against Roger,” Somdev Devvarman said on the ‘Wake Up!’ podcast, hosted by Indian comedian Sorabh Pant.

“This was also the time when everyone thought Roger Federer was getting old,” he laughed.

Somdev Devvarman was left in awe of Roger Federer after their clash at the 2013 French Open.

Somdev Devvarman vs Roger Federer

Once on the court, Roger Federer toyed with Somdev, brushing aside the challenge for a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Somdev Devvarman admitted that he could only watch in awe every time Federer hit a winner.

“I was reasonably quick so when players hit returns, I am usually close to retrieving it. But when this guy was hitting a winner, it was always far away. I would be left just staring at the ball,” the 35-year-old Devvarman recalled.

“And the worst thing is that it's on clay. So, you are embarrassed even more because you are just slipping and sliding all the time.

“I don’t think I have ever played so well and lost so badly,” chuckled the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold-medallist.

Though he lost on the day, it was an enlightening experience for Somdev Devvarman, who learnt more about the game by playing greats like Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

“It was a good experience for me. I don't really feel that bad because those players make short work of the top-20 players in the world. I was not even close,” said Devvarman, who was ranked 188 at the time.

After despatching Devvarman, second seeded Federer would ultimately progress to the quarter final stage, before being beaten by France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.