Federer packing in Rome practice ahead of French Open

When informed of the decision on Tuesday during a media event, Federer said it was "disappointing to hear". "It's probably the country I've played the most junior tennis in", Federer said.

The 20-time Grand Slam victor has not played on the red clay in the Foro Italico since his third round exit in 2016 having finished runner-up the previous year for the fourth time, losing to Novak Djokovic in the final.

If they win, the trio will switch courts for their third round matches with Nadal featuring at the Centre court and Federer and Djokovic coming out at Grand Stand.

Federer added: "I just really hope it doesn't take away the fact I'm really happy to be here".

Big names including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were scheduled to play their opening matches at the clay-court tournament, but will have to wait until Thursday now. And it's also interesting sometimes to play with a one-handed backhand player who has got a slice and stuff and I know Dan, and he is a nice guy, and it was going to be a three-day or four days I think it was - a four-day practice week.

"I think I was playing well in Madrid, so I just said, again, "let's come to Rome, a city I like so much as well", said Federer.

Federer is in the same half of the draw as eight-time Rome victor Rafael Nadal, who is looking for his first clay title this season before his French Open title defence. "I'm happy to see that it is the way it is, to be quite honest".

His only Roland-Garros title came a decade ago when he beat Swede Robin Soderling in straight sets.

Federer could come up against eight-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Rome, and Madrid Open victor and eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals.

Chinese 15th seed Wang Qiang also fell to Czech Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Amongst the women, world number one Naomi Osaka was waiting for a start against Dominika Cibulkova after beating the Slovak in the Madrid first round last week.

  • Angelo Rivera