Federer, a 13-time winner of the ATP’s annual sportsmanship award, pointed out that he has played little since the coronavirus pandemic prompted changes in procedure between points, and players now fetch their own towels.
“It was a misunderstanding on many levels,” Federer said later. “First I didn’t understand what was going on. I did not know he was upset.”
With a chuckle, Federer added, “I guess I’m new to the new tour. It got a little energy into the match, which I like.”
The dispute delayed play for more than three minutes and seemed to unsettle Federer for the rest of the second set, but he regrouped and won, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2. The victory advanced Federer to the third round at Roland Garros, his first major tournament in 16 months.
Federer showed in the third set that he harbored no lingering hard feelings toward Cilic, conceding a point he didn’t lose.
On the first point of the pivotal tiebreaker, Cilic hit a serve near the line and Federer conceded it as an ace. The umpire climbed out of his seat and called the serve long, but Federer gave Cilic the point anyway. Replay showed the ball was long.
ENDING A DROUGHT
Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens beat a top-10 player for the first time in 2 1/2 years — and it was the same player as last time.