Federer: No Place Like Wimbledon Centre Court

Roger Federer (photo: Wimbledon video)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, July 3, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

It’s been 20 years since Roger Federer upset World No. 1 Pete Sampras in the third round at the Wimbledon Championships on Centre Court, which has become like a second home for the Swiss superstar. Of his 20 Grand Slam titles, eight of them have been won at Wimbledon, most recently in 2017. After his third-round win Saturday afternoon over Cameron Norrie, which was the 1,250th victory of Federer’s career, a chance at number nine remains in focus for the future Hall of Famer.

On a middle Saturday at the All England Club that included a 90-minute rain interruption early on but cleared for the remainder of the day, the No. 6 seed Federer walked out on Centre Court to the plaudits of an appreciative crowd. They were also there to cheer for Norrie, one of Great Britain’s own, just as much as they were there to cheer for Federer.

At age 39, Federer became the oldest man in the third round of Wimbledon since Australian Ken Rosewall in 1975. But, as he’s proven, age is just a number to him; he’s rolling back the years. Although Federer dodged a bullet in winning by retirement over Adrian Mannarino on Tuesday, then looked pretty solid in disposing of Richard Gasquet on Thursday, the Swiss superstar met his first big test in the third round against the left-handed No. 29 seed Norrie – and he passed it, prevailing 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 35 minutes to move into the fourth round at Wimbledon for the 18th time in 22 visits.

The 34th-ranked Norrie, 25, arrived at this fortnight as the British No. 2 with the third-most match wins this season on the ATP Tour. He’s been a pleasant surprise all year in reaching the third round of the past three majors. Just as importantly, Norrie hoped to become the first British player to since Tim Henman in 2001 to beat Federer at Wimbledon. Now, he’ll have to wait until at least next year. By then, Federer will be 40.

In his 104th career victory at Wimbledon on Saturday, Federer (104-13) hit seven aces to zero double faults, 48 winners to 33 unforced errors and won 74 percent of his first serves. He also converted four of 11 break points and outpointed Norrie 132-114.

During his press conference after he beat Gasquet, Federer was asked to reflect upon beating Sampras in 2001. He said: “In the Wimbledon Sampras match, I felt like actually the crowds were really cheering me on. I saw highlights the other day. I was like, ‘Wow, actually the crowds were quite fair with Pete having won just five in a row, going for his eighth total I believe. … That was a big moment to be on that court and share it with Pete and actually get crowd support there.”

Although Norrie received plenty of big cheers, so did Federer. After all, they’ve always been pretty supportive of him through the years. During his on-court interview after Saturday’s win, the crowd applauded wildly for Federer – and he seemed to say all the right things.

“I’m very, very pleased and super relieved – that was a tough battle. I was so close to serving it out in the third set and I thought [Cameron] played excellent today. I think I kept a high-level of play, but he did well to break me at the end of the third set. Overall, I can be very happy with the way I played.

“It’s nice to hear it will be my 69th Grand Slam quarterfinal. I’ve loved every minute and I hope there’s a little bit more left in me. It’s an absolute pleasure still playing right now, and this is special as it’s my last Slam before I hit the big 40. It’s all a bonus, and we’ll see how far it can go.”

On Manic Monday, Federer will face No. 23 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 winner over No. 91 James Duckworth of Australia, on Centre Court.

A great day to be a teenager at Wimbledon

What a great day to be a teenager at Wimbledon. Within a matter of minutes, first 18-year-old Great Britain wild card Emma Raducanu, then 17-year-old Coco Gauff of the United States, won their respective third-round matches to reach the second week of The Championships.

The British teenager from London, ranked 338th and awaiting her A-Level results, won the hearts of the No. 1 Court crowd as she beat World No. 45 Sorana Cirstea, 6-3, 7-5, in an hour and 40 minutes. Showing great maturity, Raducanu, born in Toronto to a Chinese mother and Romanian father, became just the fourth British teenager to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon during the Open Era, joining Glynis Coles (1973), Deborah Jevans (1979) and Laura Robson. (2013) – but she’s the youngest of them all.

While the odds didn’t favor Raducanu against Cirstea, the likable British teenager, who came in as the lowest-ranked player in the draw, had nothing to lose and everything to gain. By the time she reached match point in the 12th game of the second set, she was encouraging her enthusiastic fans by waving her arms and yelling “C’mon!” Raducanu won on her third match-point opportunity when Cirstea netted a forehand.

Raducanu, who is yet to drop a set in each of her three victories, won 83 percent of her first-serve points, hit 30 winners and outpointed Cirstea 84-65. Next, she will play No. 75 Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, who won a contentious 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 third-round match against Eastbourne champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. The loss ended Ostapenko’s seven-match winning streak on grass.

“That was a well-deserved victory,” said Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, who commented on Raducanu-Cirstea match for the BBC. “She played her heart out, played the match of her life.”

“Emma, how was that?” Raducanu was asked during her on-court interview. It drew appropriate laughter from the crowd and helped break the ice for the new British star. “Honestly, I am so speechless right now. At the end, I didn’t know what my reaction would be if I had won. Then, that just happened. I am so, so greatful for all the support I have had today.”

When she was asked what most she gets out of Satuday’s success, Raducanu said: “Just to stay here another day, really. It’s all rather huge!” (Laughter.) “I’m just so grateful for all the support I had today. I really appreciate it. This is by far the biggest court I’ve ever played on.

“I think that I coped quite well. I was 3-1 down in the first set but I just tried to hold my nerve. You really got me through – in the second set, and the first set, the whole match really.”

Asked how she would celebrate her victory, Raducanu quipped: “I think I’m going to have to do some laundry tonight but I think they have a laundry service at the hotel. So, I’m all good.”

Meanwhile, over on Centre Court, No. 20 seed Gauff moved into the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over 102nd-ranked Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, needing just 65 minutes to take care of business. With her victory, Gauff has reached the fourth round or better in four of the eighth Grand Slam main draws she’s played.

In her second straight Wimbledon in which she has reached the fourth round – the first coming in 2019 when she was just a 15-year-old qualifier – Gauff hit 21 winners, converted five of seven break points and outpointed Juvan 63-45.

“Coming in today, I wasn’t as nervous as I was before my second round,” Gauff said during her on-court interview that followed her victory. “It’s a good feeling to be on this court and I’m super honored the tournament has allowed me to play on this court. It’s not often that a 17-year-old gets to play here [on Centre Court].”

On Monday, Gauff will play Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who won the 2018 Wimbledon ladies’ title, on Centre Court. The No. 25 seed Kerber advanced with a 75-minute, 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over 100th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on No. 2 Court. After dropping the first set, Kerber won 12 of the last 13 games of the match.

Auger-Aliassime reaches fourth round for first time

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced to the Wimbledon fourth round for the first time after his opponent, Nick Kyrgios of Australia, was forced to retire after the second set of their match on No. 1 Court due to an abdominal injury. The score was level at a set each. Kyrgios won the first set 6-2 and Auger-Aliassime the second 6-1. The victory improved Auger-Aliassime’s win-loss record to 23-13 this season, which includes a grass-court final last month in Stuttgart followed by a semifinal run at Halle.

“I’m sorry for Nick, he was playing so well in the first set,” Auger-Aliassime said during his on-court interview. “It’s really unfortunate, in front of a packed crowd. We both love playing here and there were some big expectations for this match. We were hoping to put on a g old show and entertain the crowd. So, it’s unfortunate that he had to retire. I hope it’s nothing too serious and that we’ll see him back during the U.S. swing.”

Kyrgios, who was also interviewed on-court – something not ordinarily done for the losers of main-court matches during this fortnight – said: “I haven’t played this level of tennis in a long time, and obviously playing someone as good as Felix I would want my main weapon, my serve, to be firing. I just felt my ab, I definitely did something to it at the end of the first set. But that’s the way it goes. … He’s a hell of a player and he’s going to to do great things in this sport.”

Auger-Aliassime’s advancement to the fourth round, joining fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov, marks the first time that Canada has had multiple players reach the second week at Wimbledon in the Open Era.

Next, Auger-Aliassime will face No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, who held off No. 31 seed Taylor Fritz of the United States, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4), in two hours and 38 minutes. The victory by Zverev, who hit 19 aces and 45 winners, equals his best performance at Wimbledon. By reaching the third round, Fritz, who is three weeks removed from knee surgery, also enjoyed his best showing at The Championships.

Around the All England Club


• Italy’s No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini earned his 100th ATP Tour-level win that lifted him into the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second time in his career. He won his eighth straight on grass with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 64 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia in an hour and 41 minutes, thanks to serving 20 aces and hitting 36 winners. Berrettini’s serve was not broken and he outpointed Bedene 93-72. The match on No. 2 Court was interrupted at 3-all in the first set for 91 minutes due to rain. Next, Berrettini will face No. 79 Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, who beat No. 78 Jordan Thompson of Australia, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

• No. 14 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland reached the fourth round of a major for the first time after beating No. 38 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, in 87 minutes. Hurkacz, who has not dropped a set all week, hit 33 winners. Next, he will face No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who needed to go the distance to beat 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic from Croatia, ranked 37th, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, in three hours and 40 minutes on No. 1 Court. The win advances Medvedev to his first Wimbledon fourth round.


• The Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova now owns a 15-match winning streak following her 7-6 (1), 3-6, 7-5 third-round victory over No. 56 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia. It began with five wins on clay to earn the World No. 17 Krejcikova’s first WTA title in Strasbourg, France, then continued with her seven triumphs at Roland-Garros, in which she won her first Grand Slam singles title Since then, the No. 14 seed Krejcikova has added three more victories on grass at Wimbledon.

Krejcikova overcame 57 unforced errors by hitting 44 winners and, at times, playing with the intuitiveness of a doubles player who’s won three major women’s doubles titles, she won 35 of 44 points coming into the net. It all added up to a great win over the Czech star.

Next Krejcikova, who is playing in the singles main draw at Wimbledon for the first time, will face World No. 1 and top seed Ashleigh Barty from Australia, who defeated her fellow Czech and longtime doubles partner Katerina Siniakova, ranked 64th, 6-3, 7-5, in an hour and 37 minutes on Centre Court. Barty hit eight aces and 26 winners, and outpointed Siniakova 83-68.

• No. 30 seed Paula Badosa of Spain won six of the last seven games and came from 0-3 down in the final set to beat No. 44 Magda Linette of Poland, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, in two hours and 26 minutes. The 33rd-ranked Badosa is into her first Wimbledon fourth round after recently winning her first WTA title at Belgrade then reaching the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros. She has won 10 of her last 12 matches and this was the fifth time this season she’s come back to win after losing the first set.

Next, Badosa will face No. 19 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, who downed No. 16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 7-5, 6-3, hitting 20 winners and converting seven of 18 break points against the Roland-Garros finalist.

Saturday’s Wimbledon results

Monday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

With victories by both Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday, it marks just the third time in Wimbledon history that two Italian men have reached the fourth round. The first time was back in 1949 with Giovanni Cucelli and Rolando del Bello. Most recently, it happened in 1955 with Nicola Pietrangeli and Giuseppe Merlo.

“Quotable …”

“My emotions were, I just couldn’t put them into words really. I was so overwhelmed. The last point, I kind of just dropped my racquet and fell to the floor. It was just also instinctive and in the moment. I had no idea what just happened. Right now, I’m on such a buzz and such a high.”

Emma Raducanu, 18, 338th-ranked British wild card who is into the second week at Wimbledon.