Roger Federer returns on the red stuff to take part in the clay court swing of 2019. While the action on the red battlefield has been underway for a couple of weeks now, the Swiss Tennis superstar only picked two events for this part of the season. According to ESPN, he will be playing the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. According to the tour tracer on his official website, this event is likely to be his sole official preparation prior to the 2019 French Open.

Richard Gasquet booked the other slot of the encounter as the Frenchman soared past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in yesterday's session. As Federer and Gasquet share a long history of matches on the ATP tour level, their 20th clash has all the ingredients to produce some high-quality tennis.

Consolidating ranking, push for a third title in Madrid

A two-time former titlist in Madrid, Roger Federer might want to test all the build-up on clay he's been doing since Miami.

In an interview with the ATP TennisTV channel, Roger Federer spoke about his clay-court build-up, his plans regarding the red surface and how excited he feels about playing on it again.

As far as the general state of the ATP field is concerned, this season might see some changes right at its very top. Rafael Nadal has been struggling with form and he hasn't been able to clinch a clay title yet. Novak Djokovic has been having his share of issues.

Among the young guns, Thiem and, partially, Tsitsipas were the only ones to create some buzz.

All those facts lead to a better opportunity for Roger Federer. He enjoyed playing in Madrid in the past. Therefore, going all the way once more at Caja Magica is among the possibilities.

Currently ranked third in the world, Roger Federer can consolidate his status by making a solid run in Madrid. Being among the first four seeds at the upcoming events (Rome and the French Open) would make things even more interesting.

Richard Gasquet remains a dangerous early-rounds test

Heading to an inevitable retirement after years of constant decline doesn't necessarily mean Richard Gasquet is done and dusted. His ranking may be in a slump at the moment at world's No. 39, but his tennis mastery is still there.

As far as his history against Federer is concerned, the Swiss player holds an impressive 17-2 win/ loss record against him with Gasquet's last win over Federer occurring back in 2011.

But the interesting aspect of this rather one-sided head to head is that Gasquet's two wins over Federer occurred both on clay ( 2011 Rome Masters, 2005 Monte Carlo Masters).

So maybe Gasquet will be capable to put up a serious fight, especially with the special conditions this Madrid-based tournament offers.

Due to the altitude, the balls are playing faster, the spin is heavier, the level of aggressiveness grows exponentially.

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