PARIS — Roger Federer, 37, joked to a stadium filled with screaming kids that he’s “so super old.” Stan Wawrinka, 34, pulled a crying boy out of a crush of autograph-seekers in the stands.
Rafael Nadal, about to turn 33, offered this advice to youngsters at his match who might be pondering a tennis career: “The main thing is, don’t think about winning Roland Garros.”
Schools in France are closed on Wednesdays, bringing out a, um, louder brand of fan to the French Open, and those three champions of the clay-court major seemed to appreciate the adulation from the little ones who attended their straight-set victories. Fitting, too, perhaps, that Federer advanced to a third-round meeting against 20-year-old Casper Ruud, someone whose father was in the field when Federer made his debut in Paris in 1999.
“I know probably more about his dad,” Federer said, “than about him.”
Federer, the tournament’s 2009 champion who hadn’t been in the field in four years, will be playing his third opponent in a row who is 25 or younger, after beating 144th-ranked Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT;Anne-christine Poujoulat / AFP / Getty Images
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The 20-time major champion next takes on Ruud, a Norwegian ranked 63rd. He is coached by his father, Christian, who told Casper he once practiced with Federer, although they did not play against each other.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been watching Roger on TV,” said Ruud, who knocked off 29th-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Wawrinka, the winner in 2015 and the runner-up two years later, also had no trouble against a much younger foe Wednesday, eliminating 22-year-old Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0.
Afterward, Wawrinka came to the rescue of one of his tiniest fans, lifting him away from danger and offering a towel as a keepsake.
“I took him out of that mess a little bit,” Wawrinka said. “He was in pain and sad.”
Owner of three Grand Slam titles in all, Wawrinka will bring his signature backhand into what shapes up as a more competitive matchup against two-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-7 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over nearly 4½ hours.
Nadal’s latest tour de force was a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over 114th-ranked Yannick Maden, a qualifier from Germany.
Howard Fendrich is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Super-old-Federer-Nadal-Wawrinka-on-13905271.php.