Minor blip doesn’t faze Federer
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:36
He might rue the lapse in concentration that nearly let his opponent back into the match, but Roger Federer nevertheless moved comfortably into the last 32 at Wimbledon with a four-set victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The world No.2 dropped the third set in a tiebreak as the German launched a spirited fight back, but stepped up a couple of gears to race away with the fourth and seal a 6-3 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1 win.
With the roof reopened ahead of play after the early threat of rain failed to materialise, the Swiss got off to a great start, breaking twice for a 4-0 lead. But even in the early stages of the match there were signs that Federer lacked a clinical edge, letting Kohlschreiber claim a break back before relinquishing the first set.
Federer looked set to cruise to victory after breezing through the second set, but at the start of the third his mind wandered from the task at hand.
Having broken early on, the five-time champion began playing shots fro his virtuoso repertoire, but too often gifted points to the German, who was more than willing to capitalise against an opponent he had not previously claimed a set against.
Kohlschreiber grew in confidence, landing winners and taking the game to his illustrious opponent, before breaking back and at one point leading 5-4. Pinned back to a tiebreak, he maintained his intensity while Federer, distracted by perceived injustices from the line judges, faltered.
The Swiss left for a comfort break ahead of the fourth, and returned with the cold-blooded clinical attitude that his fans are accustomed to. Kohlschreiber never had a look in as a more focused Federer ran away with the match.
“I thought it was my best match of the tournament so far,” said a bullish Federer afterwards. “We played a lot of tough points – I really thought from my side it was an excellent match. Of course you also need the opponent to come up also with the goods to make it an exciting match, and I thought it was.
“Sure, I would have loved to win in straight sets, but he came back strong,” he added. “I was happy how I reacted – I didn’t panic.”
A bullish attitude would serve well as Federer faces perhaps the trickiest mid-third and prospective fourth round matches of the key contenders for the title.
Next up is Robin Soderling, the man Federer beat in Paris to lift the French Open but who will be a different prospect on grass, with either Fernando Verdasco or Ivo Karlovic awaiting the winner in the last 16.
Big serving Croatian Karlovic beat Jo-Wilfired Tsonga in a typically cagey encounter, pipping the Frenchman 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5 7-6(5), much to the frustration of the No.9 seed.
“What I can say? He served well and that’s it. You can’t do anything,” said the former Australian Open finalist. “I think it was just mental because you can maybe play good points in the tie-break and the match can turn, but I didn’t have these points.
“With that serve he can go a long way in the tournament. He’s the best server I’ve faced. I didn’t play but he served well.”