Roger Federer showed mixed emotions after he claimed his first victory at Wimbledon on Tuesday. The eight-time former champion, who has not lost in the first round here since 2003, improved to 102-13 at the All England Club with his victory over Adrian Mannarino.
But it was far from the triumphant return Federer would have imagined. After taking the first set, 2019 finalist Federer found himself in danger on Centre Court as the Frenchman took the second and third. Just as Federer was working his way back in the fourth set, Mannarino took an unfortunate slip behind the baseline and was eventually unable to continue.
Federer advanced 6-4, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-2 after his opponent retired with a knee injury. The sixth seed, who is working his way back to form after undergoing knee surgeries last year, sympathised with Mannarino in his post-match press conference.
Federer Survives Centre Court Scare
“It was just a terrible ending, one I don’t like to see,” he said. “I don’t know, I just felt really down, especially with everything I went through with my knee. That was his knee, as well. I hope he’s not out for a long time.
“I don’t know. I just felt like it was really a bad ending. But okay, that’s how it goes sometimes. I just hope he is not out for long.”
Despite the unfortunate ending, Federer was quick to find the positives after a battling four sets on Centre Court. He gave a candid assessment of his performance after being tested by the experienced French player before ultimately clearing the first-round hurdle.
“Up until that point, I had a solid first two sets serving,” Federer said. “I wish I could have gotten more into his service games like in previous times when I played him. Somehow it wasn’t possible. I think it also had something to do with maybe being the first round here and him doing a good job.
“I think I was maybe turning things around a little bit. I would have been interested to see if I get through that fourth set normally. I was going to be able to change my game, the points, the way they were created nicely. That would have given me options going into the fifth. Then again, who knows.”
Federer was also keen to give a shoutout to his country’s football team after they advanced to the quarter-finals of the European Championships.
The sixth seed admitted that he doesn’t often watch football matches – apart from his beloved FC Basel – but he was glued to the screen like any other fan as the Swiss side defeated the world champions France 5-4 after a dramatic penalty shootout.
Großartig 👏 👏 mega fight
Mit Herz 🇨🇭 🇨🇭
Und jetzt Viertelfinal 🚀🚀🚀
“I just thought they fought super well. With the situation of being up 1-0, missing the penalty, then everything changing within half an hour, it would have been so easy just to let go,” he said. “I was really proud of the way they fought.
“It just shows in sports, in football in particular, when the team pulls together, really believes that they can do it, that you can move mountains really. They did that yesterday against a team we know was one of the favourites to win.
“Of course, penalty shootouts are so brutal. Obviously [you are] on the edge of your seat. That was me, too.”
Federer will next play Richard Gasquet as he seeks a record-extending ninth Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy. He leads the Frenchman 18-2 in their ATP Head2Head (3-0 on grass courts).