In a rare outburst, the Swiss took exception when asked in his post-match press conference whether he had requested a noon ET start time to, essentially, give the 58th-ranked Evans less time to recover following the latter’s three-hour battle Thursday that ended at around 6 p.m. New York time.
Evans and Lucas Pouille — both practice partners of Federer’s in the past — were forced to contest their second-round match Thursday instead of Wednesday due to rain while the 20-time grand slam champion was one of the few who benefited from playing under the roof two days ago.
The 38-year-old — still the biggest drawing card in the sport — thus had the usual day off at majors between rounds.
“I don’t remember that I asked for something,” Federer told reporters. “It’s maybe nice to be out of the sun, as well, I don’t know, I thought. But I definitely didn’t do it intentionally. I don’t even know if the team asked for day. I know there was questions to have a preference.
“But that doesn’t mean like, ‘Roger asks, Roger gets.’ Just remember that, because I have heard this s**t too often now.
“I’m sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do. We can give our opinion. That’s what we do. But I’m still going to walk out even if they schedule me at 4 in the morning.”
Evans is one of the game’s brightest, if flawed, talents. For years he admittedly failed to put in the hard work, partied too much for a professional tennis player and in 2017 was banned for a year after testing positive for cocaine.
But he can indeed play, one of the reasons why Federer invited the 29-year-old to train in the Swiss mountains in April ahead of the clay swing.
And when they met on the hard courts of the Australian Open in January, Federer won in a tight three-setter, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-3.
Little left for Evans
Evans said he had little left in the tank Friday, having to come out and play so quickly after ousting the Frenchman.
“Him being totally fresh and me battling yesterday, didn’t get out of here until probably going on 6, just complete polar opposites, isn’t it?” Evans said in his press conference. “And that is just to try and beat him feeling tired, stiff, playing four sets yesterday, it’s near on impossible.
“I actually thought I was first on today because I had doubles. I actually asked the ATP guy and that wasn’t the case.
“It would have been nice to be second or a night match. But … someone’s going to get the short straw and it was me.”
And Federer didn’t try to hide away from the fact that Evans had it tough.
“You could definitely argue that the scheduling was not in his favor,” Federer said. “But it’s anyway not fair for me to play my match under the roof, get it done, sit back, relax the next day while he’s battling out a four-hour or a three-hour match, whatever it is, against Pouille. The problem already starts there.
“That’s tennis. It’s entertainment, and the show must go on. I’ve lost maybe matches this way. I’ve won some this time. Luck was on my side. There you have it.
“So, yeah, I understand if Danny is, like, a little bit frustrated.”
Federer’s demolition job put him back on track after he’d lost the first set in his first and second rounds — the first time that ever happened to him in his record-breaking grand slam career.
Serena wins, but how will Djokovic respond?
But how will Novak Djokovic respond following his left-shoulder issue Wednesday? Djokovic — the men’s favorite entering the tournament — plays American Denis Kudla in the night session.
Kudla, like Evans, played four sets Thursday against Djokovic’s fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic.
Speaking of having a record-breaking career, Serena Williams also reached the fourth round thanks to a commanding 6-3, 6-2 victory over Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.
Williams — once again — is bidding for a 24th grand slam title, which would put the American into a tie with Margaret Court for the all-time lead. Her next challenger is Croatia’s Petra Martic, one of the tour’s drop-shot artists.
Williams’ conqueror in last year’s controversial final, Naomi Osaka, 21, meets tennis’ newest sensation, Coco Gauff, 15, in a highly anticipated clash Saturday and the 37-year-old hinted she’d be watching.
“What do I make of it? I don’t know,” Williams told reporters. “I think it’s super exciting tennis. Coco is obviously much, much younger than Naomi, if you could say that, because Naomi is incredibly young. But it’s shocking to say that Coco is about six years younger.
“I definitely think it’s the future of women’s tennis. And I’m really excited to just be a fan girl and kind of watch.”