Roger Federer became the oldest player to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the Open era when he defeated Lorenzo Sonego 7-5 6-4 6-2 and said: “I couldn’t be more excited.”
I’m extra happy. I felt after the first set I was able to control things. I couldn't be more excited to be in the quarters Roger Federer
Federer, at 39 years and 337 days, completed his Italian job against his opponent from Turin to make the last eight for a record-extending 18th time.
And he kept on course for a ninth singles title at the All England Club to equal the achievement of Martina Navratilova.
Plu,s his victory over Sonego, set up a meeting with either second seed Daniil Medvedev or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who had their rain-affected fourth-round tie suspended mid-match for a day.
The Swiss, also aiming for his 21st Grand Slam to regain top spot in the most-won majors race, said to the crowd: “I’m extra happy. I felt after the first set I was able to control things. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the quarters. Thank you guys, for coming out and supporting and making it special.”
On Medvedev and Hukacz having to finish off while he rested, he said: “It is not fair for anyone. I have been in these situations before – but these guys are young and they can recover! Unfortunately, they are very, very good too, so hopefully it rains again tomorrow… I’m kidding, I’m kidding!”
The sixth seed was out to stop a second Italian making it through to the last eight following the success of Roman Matteo Berrettini earlier.
But his main motivation, of course, was to try add to his eight crowns having come back from a year-and-a-half of knee problems and turning 40 next month.
The Swiss looked in good shape for the match up against an opponent he defeated in straight sets at the 2019 French Open in their only previous meeting. His level has gone up since edging into the second round, when his opponent Adrian Mannarino retired through injury.
And he eased through his opening service games. Federer also forced three break points at 2-2 but big-serving from Sonego got the 23rd seed out of trouble in a game which extended to ten minutes.
But Federer held to love and secured three more break points on the 26-year-old’s next service game. This time Sonego, world-ranked 27, faltered with a series of forehand errors and a failure to challenge a call that would have gone in his favour as the Swiss sealed the first break of the match.
And when Federer served at 5-4 it looked a foregone conclusion he would take the lead. But inexplicably he produced a row of errors which saw him broken to love.
The match see-sawed again in the next game as Sonego, who lost in the first round in 2018 and 2019, saved a series of break points. And, as rain came, play was suspended with him forced to save another. And a delay to think about it as the roof was closed.
It turned into a negative for the Italian when Federer completed the break on the resumption and served out the set.
The Federer Express was on a roll. The indoor conditions, with none of the winds which had blown around when it was open, favoured his measured shot-making. He broke the more-erratic Sonego in the fifth game of the second and went on to double his advantage.
Sonego’s bubble had been burst and the tall, lanky Italian faded further allowing Federer to complete the job.