Less than 24 hours after Lukas Rosol’s huge upset of Rafael Nadal on Centre Court at Wimbledon with the roof closed, Roger Federer took on an inspired Julien Benneteau, with the match played entirely indoors. The first set stayed on serve until Benneteau broke and immediately took the lead, playing with consistency and variety which surprised the Swiss. While he did break in the second set, Federer was broken right back and play carried on into a tiebreak. A surprising statistic, Federer had lost 5 of his last 6 tiebreaks. Benneteau won the tiebreak (7-3) and now put a daunting task on the Swiss: to come back from 2 sets to love down or go home.
Federer squandered three set points in the second set, but quickly raced out to a two break lead following Benneteau’s fall on his wrist. The Swiss maestro stayed on course in the fourth set, but again failed to convert on three break point opportunities in one game, losing five straight points. Then the pressure mounted. Benneteau kept one game ahead, forcing Federer to serve to stay in the match twice. Tight points ensued and the crowd was sensing possibly a second monumental upset in as many days.
Federer pushed the match into a fourth set tiebreak, and along the way, was within two points of defeat on several occasions. Again giving up a mini-break, Federer had the set on his serve at 5-4, only to lose one of two points, and then switch sides after losing another chance on set point. Finally the Swiss converted, and the emotion shown to the crowd. Federer leveled the match and Benneteau was drained physically, credit to the Swiss for wearing him out.
The final set was a rush, as Federer broke twice and easily served out the match, but in retrospect it was a relief to him and the fans packed at Centre Court Friday evening. After 3 hours 34 minutes, 14 aces and 53 winners, Federer prevailed 4-6 6-7 (3) 6-2 7-6 (6) 6-1. The Swiss will now have two days off this weekend before he takes on Xavier Malisse in the 4th round on Monday.