Ten­nis tips from the queen

WIM­BLE­DON: Fed­erer back in top form on Day Five

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

LONDON — With no coach in his corner to guide him when the go­ing gets tough, Roger Fed­erer joked yes­ter­day that he maybe could even get a lit­tle guid­ance from Queen El­iz­a­beth.

The six-times Wim­ble­don cham­pion strug­gled to find his A-game in his first two matches, but af­ter be­ing sum­moned on his day off to dine with the queen, he found the form that has helped him to reign at the All Eng­land Club for most of the 21st cen­tury.

“She knew about my tough first round,” Fed­erer said yes­ter­day af­ter pro­duc­ing a ma­jes­tic per­for­mance in a 6-2 6-4 6-2 third round pum­melling of Ar­naud Cle­ment.

“She said I should hit more back­hands down the line,” the top seed added to hoots of laugh­ter.

In case any­one thought he was be­ing se­ri­ous, and per­haps to make sure he does not get ban­ished to the Tower of London, the Swiss quickly poured cold wa­ter on the the­ory.

But there was no doubt­ing that af­ter set­ting pulses rac­ing in his first match when he came within three points of de­feat against Colom­bian Ale­jan­dro Falls, and caus­ing a few more panic attacks on Wed­nes­day when he was stretched to four sets by Ilija Bo­zol­jac, he fi­nally hit his stride on Day Five.

It was as if the real Roger Fed­erer had fi­nally shown up at Wim­ble­don. The­foot­work was­pre­cise and the tim­ing of his shots was sweet — es­pe­cially on the back­hand.

When world num­ber 86 Cle­ment strolled in through the All Eng­land Club gates on Mon­day, he had two main claims to fame.

He held the record for tak­ing part in the long­est ever men’s ten­nis match and could boast of hold­ing a 100% record over Fed­erer in grand slam meet­ings.

At 1841 lo­cal time yes­ter­day, he lost his brag­ging rights.

Cle­ment, whose six hours 33 minute duel at the 2004 French Open was shat­tered by the 11-hour, fiveminute Is­ner-Mahut epic on Thurs­day, had won both of his pre­vi­ous ma­jor show­downs with Fed­erer — al­beit the last one com­ing in 2001.

Yes­ter­day, the writ­ing was on the wall for the sun­shade-wear­ing French­man within the first three min­utes when­hewa­sout­foxed, out­hit and out thought by Fed­erer and was bro­ken in the first game.

While most play­ers try and switch to Plan B when things are not work­ing, Cle­ment just fid­dled with his head­gear. First he tossed aside his red ban­dana for a blue one. When that failed to have the de­sired ef­fect, he switched to a pur­ple one.

When none of that dis­tracted Fed­erer in full flow, he even started emit­ting an an­guished wail every­time he made con­tact with the ball.

Af­ter hu­mour­ing the 32-year-old for 95 min­utes, the Swiss put Cle­ment out of his mis­ery and now stands just four wins away from a record equalling sev­enth men’s crown.

The king of Wim­ble­don promptly turned his thoughts to the queen. “She was very friendly, very re­laxed. You could tell she’s done this a mil­lion times. She made ev­ery­body feel very spe­cial at the ta­ble, one of those things you’ll never for­get, and be able to tell to your kids … down the line.”

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