Roger Federer won his first match at Wimbledon! This is his 16th consecutive appearance at Wimbledon and he kicked it off by defeating the Italian player Paolo Lorenzi, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in 93 minutes. The match was 90% Vintage Federer with a dash of 2014 Gritty Federer thrown in at the end.
Federer opened the first set with a solid hold and then the pressure was immediately on the Italian. Lorenzi saved 3 break points but couldn’t save the 4th and Roger was up 2*-0. Roger himself offered a break point of his own while serving to consolidate, but he held despite being pushed to deuce twice. Down 0*-3, Lorenzi finally got on the board with his first game. By then the Swiss had begun to look quite comfortable indeed and went up to 4-1* with a quick love hold. Lorenzi was under pressure again and Roger had three break points. He finally took the third one and had to serve for a breadstick at 5*-1. He got into a bit of trouble being 2 break points down but saved them both to get to deuce. Then he had to save another one before finally closing out the set with an ace. Here are the stats for set 1.Lorenzi had a rough start to set 2, offering Roger 4 break points. But the Maestro failed to capitalize on any of them and Lorenzi got on the board for set 2. While Roger was unable to break Paolo, he had no problem in his own service game, holding to love to get to 1 all. Back on Lorenzi’s serve, the maestro kept pushing and got to deuce. A failed volley from the Italian gave Roger a break point and this time Roger took it. Up a break at 2*-1, Roger served another love hold to go up 3-1*. Next was Lorenzi’s service game and it was a repeat of his previous one. He got pushed to deuce, then offered a break point which the Swiss converted to go up 4*-1. Roger then held his own serve comfortably again to take the score to 5-1* with Lorenzi to serve to stay in the set. Before Paolo could blink, he had provided Roger 3 break points; Roger took the very first one and won the set 6-1. Here are the stats for the set.Into the third set and Roger kicked it off with another fine hold and then proceeded to break Lorenzi right away. Another comfortable hold gave the Swiss a 3-0* lead. In Lorenzi’s next game, he offered Roger 3 break points but Roger failed to convert any with some pretty wild errors and Lorenzi was able to get on the board. Unperturbed, Roger held his own serve again and extended his lead to 4-1*. In Paolo’s next service game, despite throwing in a double fault he held, making it the first time in the match he had 2 consecutive service holds. Serving at 4*-2, Roger had a clinical love hold to go up 5-2* and it was up to the Italian to serve to stay in the match. This was Roger’s worst game of the match. He had Lorenzi on the ropes with not 1, not 2 but 5 match points and yet couldn’t convert any of them through a string of errors. Kudos to Lorenzi for staying focused, he deserved that game.
Thus, it was up to our Maestro to serve it out. Roger looked mighty annoyed at the mess that just happened in the previous game and I was worried if the errors were going to follow him into this final game. Sure enough a missed volley from the Swiss and it was 0-15. Roger got the next two points to go up 30-15 when a double fault, his only one in the match, took the score to 30 all. Finally, Roger focused, stopped trying to rush it and served a great serve to take the score to 40-30. He converted this final match point with an ace. Here are the match stats.Obviously Lorenzi didn’t put up much of a challenge but nonetheless I felt this was a good performance for the Maestro. His serving was excellent and it actually got better with each set. There were some gaffes at the net but more often than not, he won those points, 30 of 42 to be exact. The one glaring stat is the 6 out of 23 break points converted. Had he converted more of them, the match could have finished at least 15 minutes earlier. But other than those missed opportunities I think he played a great match. His movement was good and I got the sense that from half-way in the second set on, he was trying out some things and experimenting a bit. Despite that messy game at the end, he had double the number of winners to unforced errors. He hit some wonderful overhead and backhand smashes and served and volleyed quite a bit towards the end that made the crowd ‘oooh’ with awe. Here is what he had to say about this tactic in his presser:
“[Edberg] maybe just reinforced the concept that it is possible, that I can actually do it. I think it could be that little extra piece to the puzzle that could bring me through, to have that extra option. I think also the racquet is helping me to serve overall more powerful, higher percentage. I think it is helpful. I’m going to still see against who I can do it and who I can’t. If I can’t, we’ll have to rely more on my baseline game, on the first shots, serve, returns, first strike, which almost everybody plays nowadays. It’s important to have the confidence to half volley, which I love to do on the grass, to take time away from your opponent. It’s many little things that are going to make it work for me.”
Towards the end he seemed to be in a bit of a rush to finish the match and then got caught up in a loop that kept making him get more frustrated. We have seen matches like this both in 2013 and this year where he suddenly has trouble remaining calm and closing it out. However, unlike 2013 and rather, staying true to his 2014 avatar, he was able to stop the rot, collect himself and close it out in the end. In my opinion, this match was exactly what he needed: not too tough or energy-sapping but a good workout nonetheless. Here is a tiny highlights clip and a clip from the presser.
In Round 2, the dangerous Gilles Muller awaits him. Their H2H is 3-0 in Roger’s favour but Muller’s best surface is grass. He’s also a lefty with a good serve and they haven’t played each other since 2008. Muller’s win over Benneteau was a tightly fought match that was ultimately won in straight sets. I doubt he will be in awe of Roger; he’s been around the tour for a while now. So Roger would be right to be wary of him as his opponent at such an early stage in the tournament. Their match will be held on Thursday, probably on Centre Court though we won’t know the time till later today.
Before I sign off however, our amazing champ has set quite a few records with this win that should be mentioned so here they are 🙂
- By playing his first match of Wimbledon 2014, Roger has now officially participated in his 59th consecutive Grand Slam, extending his own crazy record.
- He has now also played in 61 Grand Slams in total. Roger is tied with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt in 2nd place behind Fabrice Santoro who played in 70 Grand Slams.
- This was his 1,180th career match and 958th career match win.
- This was his 269th Grand Slam match win.
- It was also his 68th match win at Wimbledon.
Pretty legendary, right? I will conclude with this clip that is a must-see for all Federer fans where he is at his adorkable best: ‘Roger Federer’s perfect day at Wimbledon’. Wishing you all the best for the next round Maestro! ❤