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Roger Federer becomes oldest man to reach French Open fourth round since 1972 with win over Ruud

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Roger Federer brushes Casper Ruud aside in straight sets to become oldest man to reach French Open fourth round since 1972

  • Roger Federer strengthened his bid for a French Open title with a win on Friday 
  • The Swiss overcame Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 to reach the fourth round in Paris
  • Victory saw him become the oldest since 1972 to reach a Roland Garros last-16  

Roger Federer despatched an opponent 17 years his junior and became the oldest man to reach the fourth round of the French Open since 1972.

The 37-year-old Swiss won 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 against 20-year-old Casper Ruud, whose father Christian was in the draw here when Federer made his debut in 1999.

Federer looks to be playing with total freedom, back in Paris after three years away and relishing his unfamiliar position as a dark horse for this title.

Roger Federer eased into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 win on Friday

The 37-year-old Swiss is now the oldest man into the fourth round at Roland Garros since 1972

The 37-year-old Swiss is now the oldest man into the fourth round at Roland Garros since 1972

Suzanne Lenglen court was packed for a Federer-Ruud match and they were not disappointed

Suzanne Lenglen court was packed for a Federer-Ruud match and they were not disappointed

Ruud, the world No 63, looks a very promising clay courter and he dug in impressively in the third set, when he had a set point in the tiebreak. But he is like many modern players in that he is basically looking to slug away from the baseline until he or his opponent misses.

Federer wrenched him out of his comfort zone in the first two sets, charging into the net and slicing the ball down around Rudd’s laces with that knifing backhand.

This tournament has missed Federer badly. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are an awesome sight on these courts, but the sight of them grinding down inferior opponents – predominantly from the baseline – can wear a little thin.

Ruud has been impressive this season and clenched his fist after he dug in late on in the match

Ruud has been impressive this season and clenched his fist after he dug in late on in the match

Federer's experience was telling and he pressured Ruud by slicing and volleying at the net

Federer’s experience was telling and he pressured Ruud by slicing and volleying at the net

Tennis needs variety and watching Federer plot his way through a match on his worst surface is a joy Parisians have missed. And not just the locals; every seat in the Suzanne Lenglen press box was taken with journalists sitting on the steps and queuing down the corridor to get on.

Ruud scrapped his way to three holds early on but Federer found some joy by chipping his returns short, forcing the youngster to venture forward into the uncomfortable territory around the net. One such return set up a glorious half-volley backhand pass down the line to break for 4-3.

Federer conceded a break point in the net game after a few loose forehands but – as he always seems to do – he found a solid first serve when he needed it.

By the second set he was in full flow, hitting 17 winners including one leaping backhand overhead volley that no 37-year-old had any right to pull off.

In the third set Ruud found his range on the forehand side and was able to play the match much more on his own terms. He led 2-0 but was pegged back immediately, and as the set wore on it was the Norwegian who found himself with half-chances to win the set but Federer’s serve came to the rescue when he needed it.

Norwegian star Ruud looked to take control and set the tempo but struggled to find the lines

Norwegian star Ruud looked to take control and set the tempo but struggled to find the lines

Federer has been missed in these parts of Paris and is firmly in contention to win the title

Federer has been missed in these parts of Paris and is firmly in contention to win the title

Federer had the match on his racket at 6-4 in the tiebreak but he shanked a forehand into the net and then Ruud saved a second match point on his serve.

At 6-7 Federer saved a set point with a serve and volley and after a Ruud double fault gave him a fourth match point he sealed it 10-8 with an overhead smash.

The Swiss is into the fourth round with the minimum of effort and that should stand him in good stead as he tries to plot a course through to that immoveable object that will likely await him in the semi-finals: Rafael Nadal. 

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