Roger Federer had a very rare argument with the chair umpire during last night's second round match at the French Open in Roland Garros. The Swiss star is known to be the calmest and most composed competitor, so it came as a shock to see him having a lengthy discussion with the umpire about a time penalty he received due to the placement of his towel.

To be fair, the incident could hardly be considered a "tantrum" such as those seen from many other players. Instead, it was a lengthy discussion mostly in French, with Federer complaining that he should have been given a warning before being given a time penalty for delaying the game. The reason for the holdup is the fact that players now have to pick up their towels themselves from buckets on the court-side, instead of having ball boys/girls assisting them.

Known to be a fairly fast player, Federer even asked his opponent, Marin Cilic, if he was being slow. The Croatian admitted that he was left waiting for Federer to return to position in order to serve. Cilic was forced to bounce the ball a few more times than he normally would as he waited for Federer to walk back from where his towel was located, but it also did not seem like he was delaying on purpose. It simply appeared as though he was still getting used to having to cross the court to grab his towel in between points.

Federer dropped the second set following the argument, but he quickly regained his composure to move into the third round with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory.

Umpire Emmanuel Joseph handled the discussion well, with both men sharing their side and eventually deciding to continue. Federer then asked for an extra towel so that he has one on either side of the court and would not need to keep crossing back and forth. The incident was a wake up call for the Swiss star, who missed most of the tournaments during the pandemic.

The new towel rule of course, was implemented to lessen the contact between the players and the ball boys and girls. Federer has only just started to get back into active competition, and he will need to adjust to all the changes.

After the match, Federer said, "I didn't feel like I was playing particularly slow. I always feel like I don't make my opponent wait very much, but clearly Marin wanted to go faster. I didn't realise that. I told him, I also haven't played so much lately that I'm not quite understanding the rhythm, and I guess I'm just 'new' to the new tour."

Federer is gunning for a 21st Grand Slam title at the French Open, but he remains realistic that it probably won't happen after a year out of the sport. To top that off, world number 1 Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the draw, as is 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.

Roger Federer
Towel's that! Roger Federer argues with the umpire AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT