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'Nervous' Roger Federer cruises into third round of Wimbledon with win over Dusan Lajovic


By Molly Carr - July 7, 2017

'Nervous' Roger Federer cruises into third round of Wimbledon with win over Dusan Lajovic

Federer makes a volley
Federer makes a volley

The frictionless progress of the Big Four continued on Thursday night as Roger Federer eased past his unheralded opponent, world No. 79 Dusan Lajovic, in just 1hr 30 minutes

After eight rounds between them, the four leading contenders for the title have dropped a combined total of 53 games – or two-and-a-half per set, to put it another way. Federer’s 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 win on Thursday was actually the least clinical of the lot - in terms of the score, at least. But he never seemed in significant danger, even when taken to a first-set tie-break.

It doesn’t feel as though Federer has hit his stride yet, but then the same was true at January’s Australian Open, where his opening two rounds offered no hint of the glorious level he would achieve against better-known players such as Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka.

The difference is that, in January, we were wondering whether Federer – who had just spent six months out of the game with a troublesome knee injury – was a busted flush.

Now we know that he is capable of tennis from a parallel dimension. His coruscating strokeplay has won him four of the six tournaments he has entered to date in 2017, and has convinced most professional observers that he is playing even better than in his most dominant phase in the mid-Noughties.

Roger Federer
Rejuvenated Feder's quest for another Wimbledon is on course CREDIT: AP

Thursday’s match felt like a glorified practice session. Federer was experimenting with his serve-and-volley game, slipping in a sequence of drop volleys that were much more precise than they really needed to be, and fine-tuning the slice backhand that is such a significant part of his grass-court game.

We saw a late SABR as well– the so-called “Sneak attack by Roger”, in which he dashes forward to receive the serve on the half-volley – but Lajovic seemed to sense him coming. Like an off-spinner confronted by a charging batsman, Lajovic fizzed the ball down a little wider and managed to defuse the tactic.

Federer was watched by his parents, Lynette and Robert, from the Royal Box, although it seems unlikely that this was the reason for his anxious start.

“I struggled early on,” Federer told the BBC as he came off court, “and couldn’t get rid of the nerves. I just struggled to find my rhythm throughout the first set but I was happy to get rid of my nerves [after that] and start to play more free tennis and more inspired. At the end it actually was very good.

“I should feel comfortable here and I do, but the problem is that on grass, if you’re struggling it can take time to find your rhythm from the baseline. Nerves are a funny thing, you never know when they will come, but I am happy that they came today in the second round.”

In other words, Federer feels as though he might have got his wobbliest performance out of the way early at this year’s Wimbledon. If he is right, his remaining opponents should be worried.

The next man up is Mischa Zverev, the left-handed serve-volleyer. This pair also met in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, where Federer was magisterial in a 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 win.

Federer speaks

"I struggled early on, couldn't get rid of my nerves. I should feel comfortable here, and I do, and I have to tell myself that eventually it will come. I'm happy that it only happened in the second round."

Federer will play Mischa Zverev in the next round.

Federer* 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Lajovic can't make the first service return, does his defensive best on the next but is pinned behind the baseline and it's all a little easy as Federer races to three match points. An ace settles it. GAME, SET, MATCH FEDERER 7-6, 6-3, 6-2

Federer 7-6, 6-3, 5-2 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Federer swings at a couple of returns and misses and then plops one into the net. He produces his special 'SABR' attack during the next serve. It draws the oohs and aahhs from the crowd. He doesn't yield a point, however.

Federer* 7-6, 6-3, 5-1 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Great hands from the great man as a couple of winners at the net set him on the path to another straight forward love hold. Just one game away.

Federer 7-6, 6-3, 4-1 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Federer throws Lajovic off guard by running round a backhand service return. It forces Lajovic to rethink his next move and he goes long. A perfect chipped reply lands flush on the line as Federer senses another chance at 30-all. And quite well he may, as another unforced error edges closer to a four-game lead. He does indeed break again.FEDERER BREAKS AGAIN.

Federer* 7-6, 6-3, 3-1 Lajovic (*denotes server)

A brief moment of brilliance from Lajovic as he lifts a beauty of a backhand past the net-rushing Federer. The seven-times champion won't allow him a second more in the limelight. But wait, another flashing service return reels Federer in at 40-30. Surely that will rattle the legend of this court. Well, he draws another error from his opponent.

Federer 7-6, 6-3, 2-1 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

More pressure now from Federer, taking two more straight points off Lajovic's serve. The Serbian gets level but then Federer jumps on a slower second serve and Lajovic is facing a losing battle in the short rally which ensues. Federer fails with his only break point chance as solid serving gets the 27-year-old on the board this set.

Federer* 7-6, 6-3, 2-0 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Oh, it's exhibition stuff from Federer now as he effortlessly pushes the ball to all corners of the court. A drop shot out wide sees Lajovic scampering, but it's a lost cause. Federer cements the break.

Federer 7-6, 6-3, 1-0 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Another tricky moment for Lajovic going from 30-0 up to staring down at another break point. He toddles over to his bag to pull out another racket. That will do the trick. Mmh, perhaps not. He fires a reply long.FEDERER BREAKS.

First supermarkets, then keepie uppies with local children and now a bike ride. Rafa Nadal also occasionally plays tennis.

Federer* 7-6, 6-3 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer punches a volley into the opposite corner which Lajovic valiantly tries to chase down. It brings up three set points. Federer inexplicably strikes the first one into the net, but takes it on the second.FEDERER WINS SECOND SET TO TAKE TWO SETS TO LOVE LEAD.

Federer 7-6, 5-3 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Just when Lajovic looks like securing a love game, a loose forehand and double fault bring Federer back. Federer goes for broke on a backhand down the line, but it slaps into the net tape.

Federer* 7-6, 5-2 Lajovic (*denotes server)

An hour gone on the clock as Federer contains Lajovic with some solid first serving. A delicate drop shot wraps up another comfortable hold.

Chris Evans takes in the Federer match
Chris Evans takes in the Federer match

Federer 7-6, 4-2 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Federer in the zone now as Lajovic's shoulders start to droop. Lajovic is running out of ideas and throwing in too many unforced errors as Federer racks up three break points. 

He shows some fighting spirit by saving the first two and then shows great determination to hang in the next rally, forcing Federer on to the backfoot and striking a volley for deuce.

Great resolve from Lajovic as he sees out the game with a forehand winner across court.

Federer* 7-6, 4-1 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer might have been secretly have a snigger at that awful mishit by Lajovic but he doesn't let it show. He knows better than that. He punishes him in other ways. With another easy hold.

Federer 7-6, 3-1 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Lajovic works Federer's backhand, doesn't get any joy and flicks it to the forehand side but ends up over-egging a groundstroke. His backhand is still in working order as he loops a beautiful winner into the corner and then hits a winner in the same spot again but this time off his other wing.

A double fault gifts Federer another break point. He can't make inroads on the first but then does on the second when Lajovic waits an age to hit an overhead smash but gets it horribly wrong and ends up with the ball clunking off his racket. Oh gosh. He really would've wanted the ground to swallow him up. FEDERER BREAKS. 

Federer* 7-6, 2-1 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer comes forward and hits a backhand volley on the spin. He takes another volley on the full and sends it into the opposite corner before showing the softest of touches at the net with a perfect drop shot. He lets fly with a flat backhand on game point, but it skids long. An ace gets the job done.

Federer 7-6, 1-1 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Federer turning the screw as a nervous Lajovic falls 0-30 down. He finally stops the rot when Federer sends a service return into the sidelines and then gets a forehand winner on the board. He can't retrieve a deep forehand from Federer, despite his attempt to spin and strike a backhand. Federer shows good reach from the baseline during his break point rally, but sends one reply long. 

Lajovic mixes it up by coming to the net, and it pays off with a delicate drop volley.

Federer* 7-6, 1-0 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Oh, it's a walk in the park now for Fed. He's won 15 of the last 16 points. That's gonna hurt.

Federer 7-6 Lajovic TIE-BREAK

Federer outlasts Lajovic in the opening point, drawing the error from his opponent. He cements the mini-break and then moves 3-0 up when Lajovic dumps a backhand return into the net. It's classic Federer now as he sends a backhand down the line and dispatches a forehand down the opposite line. That's what the crowd came here for. Another whip on his forehand wing and Federer is running away with this breaker at 5-0. 

Another forehand, this time across court sets up six set points at the changeover.

He only needs one as Lajovic can't control a backhand (7-0). FEDERER WINS THE FIRST SET.

Federer* 6-6 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer takes another volley on the full and whips it deep into the corner. He temporarily loses focus at three game points, but it's short-lived and we head into a tie-break.

Federer 5-6 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Federer hasn't really had much of a feel on Lajovic's serve since that earlier break in the third game. A couple of errors on both wings from Federer and it's another hold to love.

Federer* 5-5 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer races to three game points again and then dinks a delicate forehand into the open court. Nicely done, sir.

Federer 4-5 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Lajovic matches Federer for aces in the match with his second but then Federer knocks at the door again when Lajovic shanks a return and then pulls a forehand wide. Lajovic stays strong to hold.

Lajovic stays toe-to-toe with Federer in the first set
Lajovic stays toe-to-toe with Federer in the first set

Federer* 4-4 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Federer struggling with his first serves again as Lajovic draws him into a couple of rallies. Federer hits through one with a rasping forehand winner. He backs it up with a solid first serve out wide and then retreats to his corner to grab racket No 2 of the match so far.

Federer 3-4 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Lajovic moving well around the court and serving well. He confidently bides his time at the baseline at game point and seizes his chance to advance to net to dispatch a volley. It remains back on serve.

Federer* 3-3 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Well, whatever happened to Federer in those first two games is now a thing of the past as Federer races to three more game points again on his serve. Another love hold. That's now three in a row for the set.

Federer 2-3 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

Lajovic is renown for being strong on his backhand, but it's his forehand wing which sends over a sumptuous winner on the chase for his own love game.

Federer* 2-2 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Normal service has resumed. I repeat. Normal service has resumed. An ace down the T, his 11th of the tournament and over 10,000 for his career sets up three game points. A hold to love. 

Federer 1-2 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

The two hit the bejesus out of the ball during the first lengthy rally before Federer draws a couple of errors from Lajovic on route to two break points. That's more like the Fed we know. Federer takes a volley on the full, must to the shock and awe of the spectators but Lajovic isn't caused unawares and hangs in the game. Federer gets the break at the second bite of the cherry. FEDERER BREAKS BACK.

Federer* 0-2 Lajovic (*denotes server)

Five straight points now for Lajovic as Federer pushes into the net. A stray forehand into the sidelines hands another free point to his opponent and Federer is broken. Yes, he is actually broken. He puts a backhand volley into the net to hand Lajovic three break points. 

Federer needs Lajovic to squander the first and then watches a service return sail back over him. Now comes the third, Federer swings a forehand into space out of Lajovic's reach. Job done for now. But a sluggish Federer (when do you ever read those two words together) hand another break point opening with a sloppy backhand, followed by another unforced error. FEDERER IS BROKEN.

Federer 0-1 Lajovic* (*denotes server)

It's a breeze for Lajovic. Well certainly the first game is. The world No 79 settles quickly with a love game.

Federer and Lajovic take centre stage

A little later than expected but No 3 seed Federer and world No 79 enter the court. All the smart phones from spectators behind Federer's chair are switched to camera and video mode. 

Federer
 

All is not lost for Pliskova

 

Pliskova is KO'd

The bookies' favourite for the women's title, Karolina Pliskova has been ousted by Magdaléna Rybáriková, losing the decider 6-2.

No 3 seed Pliskova was 4/1 favourite to win her maiden slam here, which means Jo Konta will replace her as the leading lady.

We'll be moments away from Mr Federer now.

Mattek-Sands update

 

Wait goes on for Federer

So Federer has an extended wait in the dressing room. It had looked like Pliskova was on course to wrap up her contest with Rybáriková in straight sets, but the third seed ended up losing the second set on a tie-break. We're now into the decider on Centre.

Mattek-Sands suffers heavy fall

American Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been carried away on a stretcher on Court 17 after suffering a heavy fall.

It happened during the tie-break in the second set of her contest with Sorana Cirstea and forced her to retire at one set apiece.

Mattek-Sands was in clear distress as she called out for help. Her doubles partner Lucie Safarova tried to comfort her. Mattek-Sands and Safarova were bidding to complete the non-calendar grand slam at Wimbledon.

 

Winner will play Mischa Zverev

The winner of this evening's clash will face Germany's Mischa Zverev in the third round.

The 29-year-old, brother of 10th seed Alexander Zverev, defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in five sets, winning the decider 6-4.

Federer's match with Lajovic follows the conclusion of now women's favourite Karolina Pliskova's match with Magdaléna Rybáriková. Pliskova took the opening set 6-3 and is a break up in the second.

 

Federer seeks full match

Roger Federer will be looking to get a full match under his belt this afternoon when he takes on Dusan Lajovic for a place in the third round.

The seven-times champion at Wimbledon led was a set and a break up when Alexandr Dolgopolov quit with an ankle injury after 43 minutes. 

It was the second retirement of the day on Centre Court on Tuesday and led to a debate over whether players entering the slam with an existing injury should withdraw beforehand.

Federer was outspoken on the situation, but hopes to let his game do the talking today when he faces world No 79 and Serbian Lajovic.

Lajovic reached a career high ranking of No 57 back in 2014 and has never been past the second round of Wimbledon in three attempts. In fact, his best grand slam showing came at the 2014 French Open where he reached the fourth round only to suffer defeat to a certain Rafael Nadal.