Wimbledon 2013: Facing Roger Federer - You are two sets down to the greatest grass court player in tennis history. Now what?

At the exit Federer stopped to sign autographs, no one asked for Hanescu's

You are two sets down to the greatest grass court player in tennis history. Now what?

When Victor Hanescu was drawn to play Roger Federer in the opening round at Wimbledon he must have dreamed of emulating Lukas Rosol, who caused the shock of Wimbledon 2012 when knocking out Rafa Nadal. Maybe he could catch The Fed cold. After 52 minutes' play that ambition was long gone. At 3-6, 2-6 down did he go for his shots, settle for enjoying the moment, or try and hang in?

The Romanian sat on his chair, wiped his face, stared into the middle distance, wiped his face again, pulled up his socks, took a drink of water, then wiped his face of sweat one more time before walking back on court under the gaze of Condoleezza Rice and Pippa Middleton (what a conversation that would be to eavesdrop on).

Ten minutes later he was 4-0 down in the third. The weather was cold but Federer was hot. If Hanescu stayed back Federer maneuvered him around the court until he missed a return. If he went forward he was passed, or found Federer's returns thumped at his toes. One exchange of drop shots ended with Federer reading Hanescu and feathering a return into open court with Hanescu wrong-footed. Humiliation beckoned, so much so there was aloud cheer from the Centre Court crowd when, after losing 14 successive points, Hanescu lobbed Federer so well the Swiss did not even attempt to scurry a return.

That was a sign of how Hanescu, now aged 31 and 48th in the world, once broke the top 30. But its rarity showed how great is the gulf between the leading players and the rest. Broken three times Hanescu lost the third set 6-0 in 18 minutes winning just four points. He sent a final return well wide, shook hands, received a pat on the back from Federer, then packed his bags. At the exit Federer stopped to sign autographs, no one asked for Hanescu's.

Afterwards Federer, in a press conference that lasted far longer than the third set, said generously :”If he serves well and plays big he can hang with you a long time. I packed my bag for five sets. We have seen surprise losses too often in the first round so I am happy things went well out there”

There are much tougher tests ahead but in this form even the prospect of meeting Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in succession will not faze The Fed.

Follow game-by-game coverage of Andy Murray's first match of Wimbledon 2013 against Benjamin Becker

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss