Roger Federer comes back to reach 18th Wimbledon quarter-final

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If there was more than a hint of vulnerability about Roger Federer when he started his campaign at Wimbledon this year, it is quickly fading away. The 39-year-old beat world No.27 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals for the 18th time and although world No.1 Novak Djokovic remains a seemingly irremovable man. With object blocking his path to a record-breaking ninth Wimbledon title, the Swiss is starting to look ominous once again.

Six days after being fortunate enough, on his own terms, to survive his first-round match when Frenchman Adrian Mannarino had to retire with injury while leading in straight sets, Federer showed 26-year-old Sonego the benefit of all his experience as he qualified for the last eight. Just over 20 years after his famous fourth round victory over then-champion Pete Sampras, Federer is still going strong with a 105th All England Club field victory in the sack and his title is hopeful alive and well.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Federer, who faces either second seed Daniil Medvedev or 14th seed from Poland Hubert Hurkacz, whose game was postponed until Tuesday, with the Russian leading by two sets to one but losing 4-3 on serve in the fourth. “Again, difficult conditions inside and outside against Lorenzo, who is always dangerous. But I felt after the first set that I was in control. I couldn’t be more excited to be in quarterfinals, it’s a big time.

Eight-time champion here, we must not forget that what Federer, at 39, is far from remarkable. Not only is he a month away from his 40th birthday, an age where tennis players are typically long retired, he’s back after two knee surgeries in 2020 and a more difficult rehabilitation than he ever had. planned. Tied with Rafael Nadal in 20 Grand Slam titles, one without Djokovic, if he managed to win the title again, 18 years after his first, it would surely be his biggest achievement of all.

At Halle last month, he seemed short of match training as he was beaten by Felix Auger-Aliassime, the way his defeat was more troubling than the defeat itself, with Federer admitting he had gone astray mentally. as the game progressed. Since the escape against Mannarino, he has gained confidence in himself, started to move much better and looked like the former Federer. He came to the net 46 times, winning 29 and even sometimes chipped and loaded, a novelty in this era of power.

The only time Federer looked vulnerable from a distance was late in the first set, when he beat 4-3 and then failed to serve the set at 5-4. In an 11th marathon match, Sonego saved three break points but Federer forced a fourth when the match was abandoned due to rain. After a break of about 20 minutes for the roof to close, Sonego double faulted. Serving for the set for the second time at 6-5, Federer faced two break points at 15-40 but saved the first with a winning forehand, the second with good serve, then closed it.

The two men had already met once, at Roland Garros in 2019, when Federer won in straight sets. Sonego has come a long way since then, dropping from 74 to 27 in the rankings, one of 10 Italian men in the world top 100. He was enjoying his outing on center court and even whipped the crowd at times, perhaps not immediately realizing it. that many wore RF shirts and hats.

Federer beat 3-2 in the second set and retained the advantage to come back two sets to love, a margin that allowed him to relax even more. The Swiss immediately broke up to open the third set, then repeated the feat two games later, giving the crowd some truly brilliant brand flashes.

Each year, Federer sets new records. He is now the oldest man to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, breaking the record held by Ken Rosewall in 1974. This is the year the Australian reached the final for the fourth time in his career , only to be denied the title by a creepy Jimmy Connors.

Djokovic remains the man to beat, but Federer’s quarter-final opponents having been selected, few would bet against the Swiss who would qualify again for the final. “You’re not happy with this,” he said, when asked if it was good for him that Medvedev and Hurkacz are due to take over on Tuesday.

“It’s not fair, however. But I have been in these conditions several times before. These guys are young, they can recover, that’s okay with them. Unfortunately, they are very, very good too. Hopefully it rains again tomorrow. I’m just kidding. “

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