Mats Wilander recently threw his weight behind Roger Federer's decision to withdraw from Roland Garros. Wilander believes one reason Federer may have decided to pull out was to avoid having his confidence shattered by a potentially heavy loss to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Roger Federer pulled out of the French Open on Sunday, a day before his fourth-round match against Matteo Berrettini. If Federer had remained in the competition and beaten the Italian, he would have faced World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss cited the need to protect his body ahead of the grasscourt season as the reason for his withdrawal. However, Wilander feels that might not be the only reason behind Roger Federer's move.
"I think he (Roger Federer) took a good decision," began the Swede. "I think he would have had options against Berrettini. But of course, then he could have met Djokovic and it could have been that the Serb defeated him in a resounding way and before Wimbledon, he did not want that."
Wilander said he had no problem with Federer pulling out as the Swiss had achieved his main goal of getting some match practice under his belt ahead of the grasscourt season.
"He came to Roland Garros, not with the idea of winning, but with the idea of playing several games," said Wilander. "He must have earned more than he expected. But of course, what should he have done? Retire when he had a match point? He has not played Rome, he has not played Madrid. What he did is fine with me."
According to Wilander, Federer has a chance to go all the way and lift his ninth Wimbledon title. The Swede believes there are not too many players who could pose a problem for the 20-time Grand Slam champion on grass.
"Absolutely (Roger Federer has a chance at Wimbledon)," said Wilander. "People have to remember that there are not too many grass specialists. There are good players who have no idea how to play on that surface. There are not too many threats to him.
"Roger is a specialist. I can think of 5-6 players that could put him in trouble, but not much more. At Roland Garros there would be 40 players who could hurt him, but at Wimbledon I don't see that many."
Roger Federer still has that fire inside him: Mats Wilander
Mats Wilander said he was impressed by Roger Federer's performance against Dominik Koepfer in the third round at Roland Garros, especially since the Swiss played well into the night with no supporters to egg him on.
"If I had to say one thing that impressed me is that he was able to play until midnight, without an audience against an opponent that is left-handed, something that is never easy," said the Swede.
"He knew that, playing that long game, there were chances that he could not recover the next day, but he needed to win that game for his confidence. People have always seen Federer, but not everyone has realized what Federer has inside him. He still has that fire inside."