Roger Federer survives French scare

Jul 01, 2012, 08:33 IST | Dileep Mehta

It was a scary Friday night for six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in his third round match against 29-seed Frenchman Julien Benneteau.

The Swiss survived a late night conclusion under the Centre court roof, saving match point during a fourth set tie-break. The holder of 16 Grand Slam titles, Federer clinched a 4-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 win. He claimed his 62nd Wimbledon win and is now one behind Pete Sampras.

Roger Federer celebrates his third round win on Friday. Pic/AFP

The match finished at 9.18 pm local time after three hours and 34 minutes. “It was a tough match… brutal. I had a bit of luck on my side, but I fought to the very end,” said Federer. “Obviously, Julien was hurt at the end, but I tried in the third and fourth just to stay alive,” admitted Federer.

Benneteau was aiming to equal his best Wimbledon performance by reaching the last 16 here. This came in 2010. It was second year in a row at Wimbledon that Federer went to five sets against a Frenchman, but this time he managed to duck the bullet. In 2011, it was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Federer in five-set encounter for a spot in semi-finals.

Federer is bidding for his seventh Wimbledon title to equal William Renshaw and Pete Sampras’ record tally. The experienced approach of Federer in the deciding set was evident. It was Federer’s ability to make him run around court that was critical. “I was cramping in my legs. So, it was tough for me to serve,” admitted Benneteau.

Benneteau’s body and resolve collapsed as he twice received a massage to his heavy legs in the fifth set. “I fought all the way. Julien was playing amazing tennis and I knew it was going to be difficult”, said Federer post victory. 

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