Tennis tips from the queen
WIMBLEDON: Federer back in top form on Day Five
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.”