Before Roger Federer took to the court with, among others, philanthropist Bill Gates last night in The Match for Africa 4, the 18-time Grand Slam champion gave away something of his own: insight into his thought process about whether or not he'll play Roland Garros.
In an exclusive chat with Tennis Channel's Mary Carillo, Federer, fresh off an amazing comeback from knee surgery that's seen him win the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami, revealed the following:
1. "I'm entered in the French, and the plan is to play the French."
2. "I am eager to achieve something over there and not just show up and make people happy."
3. "I could get on a roll, and you never know, even though Rafa is the favorite."
4. "Novak winning there last year, I think they're going to be 1-2 favorites."
5. "The goal is to go to Paris."
Federer had previously indicated that he was likely to play Roland Garros, but would not decide until finishing his next training session.
The 2009 French Open champion has not entered any clay tune-up tournaments before Roland Garros. Based on that schedule, Federer would enter the French Open having not played on clay for more than a year. He played Rome in 2016 before withdrawing from Roland Garros with a back injury that had also kept him from playing Madrid. Federer has not had an uninterrupted clay season since 2015.
Federer, currently No. 4 in the rankings, pointed to Nadal's tenth title at Monte Carlo a week ago as evidence that he's once again the French Open favorite. Nadal also won his tenth title at Barcelona this week.
(Reporting from Ed McGrogan and Kamakshi Tandon.)