Rome — Roger Federer insisted on Monday his focus at this week’s Italian Open was on getting more match practice on clay ahead of the French Open in two weeks time. The 20-time Grand Slam winner has not played on the red clay in the Foro Italico since 2015 when he finished runner-up for the fourth time, losing to Novak Djokovic in the final. “Regardless of what happens here, I just think it’s good for me to play matches at this stage,” said world No 3 Federer before his first match on Wednesday. He has a first-round bye as the No 3 seed, and will begin his tournament against either American Frances Tiafoe or Portugal’s Joao Sousa. The 37-year-old’s performance in the Madrid Open last week has boosted his hopes of winning the French Open, a decade after his only title there. He fell in the quarterfinals on Friday to Dominic Thiem, but twice held matchpoint and for a set and a half was dominant against a player considered among the favourites for Roland Garros after Rafael Nadal and N...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now