Roger Federer survives scare to beat Julien Benneteau

French ace raced into two sets lead but six-time champion recovers to progress

Roger Federer avoided following Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon by coming from two sets down tonight to beat Julien Benneteau.

Second seed Nadal's exit to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol last night was one of the greatest grand slam shocks in recent memory.

Although a loss for Federer against the French 29th seed would not have been as great a surprise, it would still been a remarkable upset.

Six-time champion Federer last failed to reach the fourth round of a grand slam in 2004.

There was trouble against Benneteau when he fell two sets behind, spurning three set points in the process, but he found his rhythm and eventually dragged himself back from the brink.

He was helped by Benneteau visibly wilting as the match went on. A one-time quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, he rather rolled over in the third set and, despite taking the fourth to a tie-break, meekly conceded the fifth as well, with Federer winning 4-6 6-7 (7/3) 6-2 7-6 (8/6) 6-1.

"It was a tough match, it was brutal and I had a bit of luck on my side," Federer said.

"I knew it would be a difficult match and he played amazing.

"When I was down, I tried to stay calm. People can freak out, people are worried for you, you don't have many lives left. You try to take it point by point."

It had looked as though five sets would not be needed when Benneteau pulled ahead, taking the opener when he broke in the ninth - Federer netting a backhand.

The Swiss responded by taking his opponent's serve at the start of the second but uncharacteristically failed to cement the break, losing his own serve in the very next game.

Displaying a brilliant range of winners on both sides, Benneteau was creating the better chances and he had break opportunities in both the seventh and ninth games, Federer getting himself out of trouble with his serve.

The Frenchman was the next to rely on his serve to swerve danger, seeing off three set points in the 12th game and, no doubt buoyed by his escape, rushed to a tie-break win, never looking back after Federer's long forehand offered up a mini break on the first point.

Out of keeping with the match at that point, the third set was a brisk affair, Federer breaking twice early on to take it, but the fourth returned to form, with both men holding through to a tie-break.

Benneteau did have to save three break points in the fifth game but was untroubled apart from that and, at 30-15 on Federer's serve in 12th, had half an opening. Victory, in theory, was two points away.

He could not seize the chance however, and after saving one set point in the breaker he netted on the next and the match was levelled.

That was the green light Federer needed to reach the finish line first, breaking to love in the fourth game of the decider with a forehand around the net and again in the next Benneteau service game to see it out.

PA

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks