Roger Federer disliked the implication he's slowing down.
When the 39-year-old Federer drew a time violation Thursday at the French Open for not playing fast enough, he protested to the chair umpire and to his opponent, Marin Cilic.
The warning in the second set came after Cilic twice complained to the chair that Federer wasn't getting ready to receive serve quickly enough.
"Marin, am I playing too slow?” Federer said. “I understand the rule. I’m going from one corner to the next trying to get my towel. I’m not doing it on purpose.”
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.
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.