Wimbledon 2019: Roger Federer recovers from slow start to beat Kei Nishikori in 100th win at SW19

After losing the opening set, Federer roared back to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and record his 100th victory at the Championships

Lawrence Ostlere
Wimbledon
Wednesday 10 July 2019 17:22
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Wimbledon Championships in numbers

There was a moment very early in this quarter-final when Kei Nishikori broke Roger Federer’s usually imperious serve, and a sense of trepidation swelled around the Centre Court bowl. It seemed this was going to be a long afternoon for the man they had all come to see, and his ambition of a ninth Wimbledon title was about to be severely tested.

Things got worse for Federer before they got better, losing the first set and looking off the pace. After breezing through the early rounds here and losing only five games to the young Italian Matteo Berretini in the last 16, Federer had finally come up against a player worthy of sharing the stage.

But over an absorbing two hours which followed, we found out it is still Federer’s stage to share. His level soon raised all over the court. His serves began finding the corners of the service box. His volley became utterly unpassable at the net. And gradually those little glimpses of magic revealed themselves.

Nothing summed up his new-found control of the match quite like the climax of a crucial game in the third set. By now the scoreboard was perfectly balanced at one set each and 3-3, but where Federer was gliding through service games, Nishikori was stumbling. At deuce Nishikori rushed to the net only to watch his 37-year-old opponent stoop to pick the ball off the floor with a stunning backhand, flashing it half an inch over the net and back down inside the baseline. Break point, and Federer followed that with a curling forehand down the line, on the line.

He saw out the third set and worked through the fourth with a combination of quick holds and constant pressure on the Nishikori serve. He mixed deep, accurate groundstrokes with short slices to bring his opponent into a mid-court no man’s land, and by now Nishikori had run out of answers. An 11th ace clinched a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Roger Federer in action against Kei Nishikori

Yet another Wimbledon semi-final awaits, and a first Wimbledon meeting with Rafael Nadal since their epic 2008 final.

“He’s improved so much over the years on grass,” Federer said of facing Nadal, who beat Sam Querrey in straight sets. ”He’s serving way different, now he’s so much faster to finish points. It;s impressive to see how healthy he’s stayed. A lot of people were saying he was over in ‘08, like me and ‘09, so it’s nice to see him still playing so well.”

Nadal knows all about what it takes to win these Championships, of course, but the man who has made Centre Court his home over the past 15 years is not prepared to leave just yet.

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