© Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer saves two match points to beat Gael Monfils on Thursday in Madrid.

Federer: 'It Cannot Go On Like This'

Swiss will face Thiem in the Madrid QF

If only it could have been so easy for Roger Federer on Thursday against Gael Monfils at the Mutua Madrid Open. The fourth seed breezed through the opening set of their third-round match 6-0 in only 19 minutes. Another half hour, and Federer would be through to the quarter-finals, right?

Not exactly. The experience of 1,199 match wins told the Swiss not to expect a double bagel at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

You May Also Like: Tribute: Federer Records 1200th Match Win In Madrid

It cannot go on like this. You can dream about 6-Love, 6-Love but they never happen,” Federer said with a smirk. “I think that's the beauty of the scoring system that if you win the first set, everything's back to scratch in the second set.

And I don't remember the break in the first game, but I think Gael showed great intensity in the beginning of the second set to make sure that he somehow got a rhythm going, and he started playing better and he did.”

Before this week, it had been nearly three years since Federer played on clay. But the 11-time clay-court champion isn't expecting anyone to underestimate his clay-court skills during his return to the surface in Madrid.

Monfils certainly didn't. The Frenchman had two match points against Federer before the Swiss recovered 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) to advance to the quarter-finals.

I don't think anybody's really underestimating me because I'm not coming back from an injury. I've had a good start to the season this year. And it is pretty fast here in Madrid and I've won here in the past, so I guess players maybe know I don't have that much clay-court tennis in me in the last few years, but that doesn't make me less dangerous to be quite honest,” Federer said.

The Swiss won the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid in 2006, 2009 and 2012, the latter two being after the tournament transitioned to clay. In March, Federer added his 28th ATP Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open presented by Itau, the last tournament he played before returning this week in Spain.

Anything is sort of possible. The very good, the very bad, you know. But it's tough to just come out and play fantastic tennis. I also have to come to terms with how to play on clay again, what's normal, which points to lose and which points to win again,” Federer said.

Watch Live

There's always these natural things that you go through for weeks on the clay usually, so I don't have that much time, so I have to accept errors that maybe I wouldn't do normally and just move on with it.”

The 37-year-old has been playing as if he's on a hard court at times. Federer has been his usual aggressive self, coming to net often and even serving and volleying in the high-altitude conditions.

I think it is an option to be used on a hot and sunny day in Paris, too. I always thought that serve and volleying on a hot day on clay almost has more reward than on a grass court sometimes because the ball jumps out of the strike zone a little bit more and it's harder to press it down again into the feet of the attacking net player” Federer said. “So I think serve and volley can work very well on the clay.

More stories like this in: