French Open - Roger Federer 'shocked and surprised' after argument over towel with umpire and Marin Cilic
There was an unexpected and heated exchange between Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and the umpire during their French Open second-round clash at Roland Garros and the 20-time Grand Slam champion has explained to Eurosport exactly what went down from his perspective. Cilic had apparently complained over the time being taken to get towels in between points on his serve.
'Shocked and surprised' - Federer reacts to argument over towel with umpire
Roger Federer has given his reaction after he and Marin Cilic were involved in a row with the umpire over the pace of play and towels at the French Open.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion had a lengthy exchange with the umpire when 3-1 down in the second set after Cilic had apparently complained over the time being taken to get towels at the back of the court between points.
Cilic replied: "You were not playing too slow but, on a few occasions, I was waiting for you!"
Federer shot back: "I understand. But I am going from one corner to the next, trying to get my towel. I'm not even doing it on purpose!"
Cilic replied again: "That's fine but, I mean, you're playing like this all the time..."
'Big mistake!' - Wilander defends Federer over towel row with umpire and Cilic
At that point, Federer turned and walked back to the baseline, clearly not overly happy with the exchange.
Roger Federer rows with the umpire and questions Marin Cilic during their French Open clash
Image credit: Eurosport
Federer told Eurosport in the studio after his four-set victory that he was taken aback by the incident and was left surprised by the whole thing.
"Well, honestly I was a bit surprised and shocked that it happened," he said. "I didn't even understand what was going on for the most part, why I got one.
"Until I thought back to the very beginning of how it started and that only came when I was sitting down and I realised Marin actually was upset at me that I was going too slow because he wanted to serve at me when I was not even in position.
"I didn't even see it really. I just saw the ball coming over and I actually thought he was working on his serve because maybe he was unhappy with his second serve.
So honestly, with the towels being on either side, I'm a bit confused how I'm supposed to do it. I know you have to play at the server's pace but I was questioning maybe a little bit, was it also Marin pushing me to play extremely fast or was I just extremely slow. I'm not sure, I'll have to maybe see it again.
"I'm sorry if I did it, but I just wanted a proper explanation and I told the umpire as well, why didn't he tell me that I was going slow. He told me, 'Well, I assumed you knew', because of Marin serving to you.
"I didn't see it so that was my bad. I guess it was just a misunderstanding at the same time."
Highlights: Federer beats Cilic in fiery affair at Roland Garros
Mats Wilander, giving his analysis in the Eurosport Cube after the match, said it was a blessing in disguise for Federer given it seemed to fire him up to swiftly complete the match.
"I think that, yes, I understand that Marin Cilic is trying to push Roger Federer a little bit," Wilander said.
At 39 years old you want to take any advantage you can - but at the same time, the umpire makes a big mistake there because who cares!
"You have to go and get your own towel and Federer plays so quick between points - always has - he never, ever stops when there is crowd noise or anything, he just keeps playing, even at the US Open.
"That's why he is so popular, so I think it was a big mistake - and you know what? I think it fired Roger up a little bit and Marin was trying to push him a little bit too.
"If I did that [row with the umpire] you would call me a grumpy old man but I think it really helped him and it showed how much he really cares still."
'Such a champion' - Federer arrives on court for clash with Cilic
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer have all found themselves in the same part of the men's draw in what is an intriguing prospect.
The draw looks particularly exciting for Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev with the trio not having to face any of the 'Big Three' until the final at least.
Djokovic could take on Nadal in the semi-finals in Paris in what would be a repeat from last year's final in the postponed autumnal edition.
The three most successful players in the history of the men's game have won 17 of the last 20 Grand Slam titles between them.