20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer lives to fight another day at Wimbledon 2021! After a tight battle at the centre court with Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, Federer is through to the second round after Mannarino retired at 6-4,6-7(3),3-6,6-2,0-0.
The incident happened in the fourth set where Mannarino slipped on the wet grass and injured his knee. Even after a long medical timeout, he was limping on the court and was practically not able to serve. He tried his best to stay in the match but eventually withdrew due to his inability to move around the court.
It looked like an easy outing for Federer in the start. He was making very few mistakes and was serving decently. He was winning points of his second serve consistently and was a break up in the first set before winning it 6-4. Mannarino showed his presence in the second set where he was serving with a lot of angle, making things difficult for Federer. The Swiss couldn’t get the decisive break and lost the set in the tie-breaker.
Mannarino had all the momentum coming into the third set. He was serving at his best and was aided by Federer’s poor backhand. The Frenchman engaged in long rallies and Federer had no answers to hit. He broke Federer comfortably and went on to win the set 6-3.
Federer broke Mannarino’s momentum at the start of the fourth set. He was keeping the rallies short and was taking his chances from the baseline. He took a double break lead before Mannarino slipped and fell on the grass. He badly injured his knee and needed a medical timeout. But that was Mannarino’s chance of the biggest win of his life gone. He tried to serve but double faulted 3 times to hand the set to Federer 6-2. He tried to go on in the fifth set but eventually retired after 2 points.
‘He was the better player, I definitely got a bit lucky’: Roger Federer
In the on court interview, Federer addressed Mannarino and expressed what a shame it is for a match to end like this.
“It’s awful, it shows that one shot can change the outcome of a match, a season, a career. I wish him all the best, I hope he recovers quickly so we can see him on the court. He could have won the match at the end, obviously he was the better player. I definitely got a bit lucky but who cares about that.”
He the expressed his thoughts after the win: “I mean, not like this, but that’s how it goes sometimes. You don’t get many walkovers throughout your career and you try it not to happen to yourself. It’s a reminder how it goes. I am happy that I can get another chance at another match here. I worked really hard and at the end, I enjoyed myself out here. It was great fun until the end.”
Before the Frenchman retired, Federer was already beginning to find rhythm in the fourth set. He revealed what changes he made in the set.
“Yes, I tried to cut down on the length of points a bit. I thought I found a nice groove from the baseline and he is famous with that backhand from which he creates a lot of problem for so many players and today on the grass against me. So I tried to cut down the length of points and it worked well. Once I got the break, I was able to loosen up a little bit but then everything ended. At the end it was a very up and down match.”
At last, the interviewer asked Federer whether it’s true that Absence making the heart grow fonder. Federer laughed straight away and told him his english isn’t that good so he doesn’t understand that saying.
“A good reminder that my english is not very good[laughs]….. I think we are all very happy. Including the players, fans, the organizers that we can play back on tour overall and especially here in Wimbledon with the crowd. It would have been the worst without the fans, it would’ve been an absolute killer. It’s such a privilege to play here and I couldn’t be more excited that I made it from the last year. So I’m happy I get a chance for a second match and I’ll see how it goes.”