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Wimbledon 2018: New-look Roger Federer impresses with trademark style to sweep past Dusan Lajovic

Federer did not have to defend a single break point as he brushed aside Lajovic in just 79 minutes on Centre Court

Paul Newman
Wimbledon
Monday 02 July 2018 17:16 BST
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Roger Federer may have looked different in his new Uniqlo kit after ditching his long-term sponsors Nike, but his tennis was unmistakeable. In his 20thsuccessive appearance in the Wimbledon singles, which is an open era record, the 36-year-old Swiss began his quest for a ninth All England Club title with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Dusan Lajovic.

Federer did not have to defend a single break point as he brushed aside Lajovic in just 79 minutes. The 28-year-old Serb had proved a tricky opponent when Federer beat him in the second round last year, but on this occasion the world No 2 barely broke sweat.

Perhaps that was because Federer wanted to keep his new kit’s pristine appearance. It had been reported last month that the defending Wimbledon champion was signing a new deal with Uniqlo, but it was not until he had walked out on to Centre Court that the Japanese company confirmed it.

Federer has worn Nike kit in every one of his 20 Grand Slam triumphs. His previous kit deal, which expired in March, had run for 10 years, but, according to a report by ESPN, Nike declined the opportunity to match a remarkable offer by Uniqlo.

Uniqlo, which also sponsors Kei Nishikori, is reported to have agreed a 10-year agreement worth more than $300m (about £258m) which will not be affected if – or when – 36-year-old Federer retires. According to Forbes magazine’s recent list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, Federer already earns $77.2m (about £66.5m) a year.

Nike had usually take full advantage of their deal with Federer at Wimbledon in the past as the Swiss walked on to Centre Court wearing a traditional white jacket or a white jumper.

This time he wore a white shirt with a red Uniqlo logo. “Instead of the classic polo shirt or crewneck style collar, Uniqlo reflected Roger Federer’s preference for a short stand-up collar to emphasize a more sophisticated look both on and off the court,” the company said in a statement.

Roger Federer in action wearing his new Uniqlo gear (Getty)

The press release said that Uniqlo was “not a sports company” but instead described itself as “a life company that creates LifeWear, thoughtful everyday apparel with a practical sense of beauty.”

Federer said afterwards: “I was excited to wear Uniqlo today. It's been a long time coming. I felt very good out there.”

Because Uniqlo do not make tennis shoes the Swiss said he would continue with Nike footwear for the moment. “They have shown interest to have a shoe deal with me,” he said. “Ties are not broken there. I have deep roots with Nike. I've had a great relationship over the last 20 years.”

One part of the kit deal that is not resolved is the Nike baseball cap which bear Federer’s initials. “The RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point,” Federer said. “I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process.”

Federer, whose four children were in the crowd, certainly seemed at ease in his new kit. “I'm happy to be back at Wimbledon,” he said afterwards. “I was really able to enjoy the match out there because I got off to a good start. When you get off to a good start in set one and two, you're able to just enjoy the moment more than when you're struggling early on.”

No other man can match Federer’s tally of eight Wimbledon singles titles. He needs just one more to match Martina Navratilova’s all-time record for either sex. Despite his remarkable record, however, this is the first time since 2010 that he has been seeded No 1 at the All England Club.

Lajovic, who is currently one place off his highest position in the world rankings at No 57, has never beaten a top five opponent and has only ever won four tour-level matches on grass. He met Federer in the second round here last year, when he pushed him hard in the first set, but on this occasion the Swiss was soon in control.

After Lajovic had held serve to go 1-0 up Federer won the next nine games. The Swiss dropped only three points on his serve in the opening set, which he took in just 20 minutes, and was rarely in trouble thereafter.

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