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ROGER FEDERER threatened a drubbing before easing through to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the 16th time today.
The eight-time champion needed only 16 minutes to win the first set against France’s Adrian Mannarino. He could not sustain that pace but was never seriously threatened in a 6-0 7-5 6-4 victory that sets up a meeting with either Gael Monfils or Kevin Anderson.
The result extended Federer’s run of consecutive sets won at Wimbledon to 32, two short of his career best from 2005-06, while he has not dropped serve at the championships since the semi-finals last year.
Even by Federer’s stratospheric standards, the first set was a little absurd. Of the five points he lost, three were in the final game, when he faced his first break point of the tournament — and answered it with an ace.
When Mannarino found himself 0-40 at the start of the second set, the Centre Court crowd, normally one of the most pro-Federer anywhere in the world, began roaring for the Frenchman in the desperate hope a tennis match might break out.
And break out it did. After finally holding serve, Mannarino relaxed and Federer lifted his foot from his opponent’s throat.
Federer admitted after beating Jan-Lennard Struff in the previous round that he pulled out his half-volley return, dubbed the SABR or “sneak attack by Roger,” to keep his Wimbledon stroll exciting.
Here he was playing around with Mannarino but the drop in pace allowed the 22nd seed to get a foothold in the match. He could not quite make it to a tie-break, though, with Federer breaking for 6-5 and then serving out the set.
The Swiss tried out a cricket shot off a stray ball in the opening game of the third set but was becoming slightly rattled by a failure to put Mannarino away and found himself three break points down at 3-4.
His confidence appeared fully intact, though, as he saved the first with a forehand onto the line, the second with a 107mph second serve and the third with an ace.
With that, the door shut on Mannarino as Federer broke for a 5-4 lead and served it out to love.
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