‘Earned That Right’: Chris Evert Defends Roger Federer After Novak Djokovic Comparisons at French Open 2021

Published 06/07/2021, 2:20 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 5, 2021 Switzerland’s Roger Federer during his third round match against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Tennis great Chris Evert has responded to a Twitter user, who tagged her in a post on the withdrawal of Roger Federer from the French Open.


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The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who reached the third round at Roland-Garros following a hard-fought win over Dominik Koepfer of Germany, pulled out of the men’s draw on Sunday, citing the need to listen to his body and rest his knees ahead of Wimbledon.

Federer said that he took the decision on the advice of his team. He had hinted at withdrawal after coming through in a tense four-setter earlier on Sunday.


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Twitter user claimed unequal media treatment of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

Responding to the champion’s pullout, a Twitter user, purportedly a Novak Djokovic fan, wrote that the current World No. 1 had copped a lot of bad press for pulling out mid-match with an injury at the 2019 US Open.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 3, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

The withdrawal happened during a fourth-round encounter with three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

The user said that while Djokovic drew a lot of hate from the media for quitting mid-match for a genuine reason, Federer will not get the same unflattering reception from the press despite treating the French Open as a “practice tournament”.

To that, Evert said that the Swiss has had two knee operations, the latest of which happened as recently as last year, and had every right to withdraw as he was unsure if his knees would hold for the rest of the tournament, especially after a grueling battle that spanned over three hours.

The 39-year-old Swiss has listed Wimbledon as his priority event this year and had said that he didn’t have high expectations of himself going into Roland-Garros.

Federer is the greatest superstar for tennis, says Chris Evert

The 18-time Grand Slam champion also added that her defense of Federer holds good for Serena Williams as well.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion skipped a plethora of events post her disappointing semi-final exit at Australian Open and came into Roland-Garros on the back of two defeats from just three matches on return to the Tour.

Though she managed to reach the last-16 in the French capital after a run of wins, Serena suffered another Grand Slam heartbreak on Sunday as she lost her fourth-round battle with Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

“Geez, the guy’s almost 40, been the greatest superstar and ambassador for tennis the last 20 years, just had 2 knee operations…he’s earned the right (as has Serena),” Evert said.


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Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 6, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her fourth round match against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Djokovic was trailing Wawrinka by two sets in the 2019 clash when he decided to withdraw. However, the full house at the Flushing Meadows was less forgiving of him as he left the area to loud jeers.

Speaking on his pullout later, Djokovic said that it was “very frustrating” and he wasn’t the first to have withdrawn mid-match, adding that the booing from the crowd did hurt.


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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.