Wimbledon Day 6 | Federer and Djokovic ease into fourth round
It was business as usual for two of the main contenders who progressed into the second week with straight set wins without breaking sweat, metaphorically speaking.
Every time I have played him he has become better. I expect the same on Monday Roger Federer
Roger Federer who at 35 years of age remains clear favourite to pick up his eighth Wimbledon title despite being the oldest player in the field, won comfortably against the elder of the Zverev brothers, Mischa, in what was their fifth meeting, and as in all their earlier encounters, the German was unable to take a set off the Swiss Maestro though the 29-year-old did give him, with his serve and volley game, a run for his money in the opening set.
Despite that and a cold, Federer, playing in his 49th grand slam, dispatched him 7-6(3) 6-4 6-4 and will now go on and meet the youngster Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16, the Bulgarian who has been dubbed Baby Fed and who is reigniting his career which had seemed to falter after breaking into the sport and hailed as a future star. His liaison with Maria Sharapova might well have contributed to that!
Seven time champion Federer is aware that his form is improving, commenting: “Every time I have played him he has become better. I expect the same on Monday.”
Dimitrov made the last 16 very comfortably following the retirement of his Israeli opponent Dudi Sela after just two sets in which he dropped a single game in each, is very clear as to his goal, namely win Wimbledon.
“My game is better; my physique is better and I’m in a better place in my life and head. I’m just excited. I’m not hiding it. My ultimate goal is always to win Wimbledon and I think I am on the right path.”
Another player who has that same goal albeit having already achieved it three times, is Novak Djokovic who has made the fourth round for the loss of just 19 games. Ernest Gulbis was expected to give him some trouble with his powerful strokes but he proved a bit erratic allowing the Serbian second seed to cruise through 6-4 6-1 7-6(2).
The Latvian, a former top tenner, did show he could be a threat, breaking Djokovic for a 2-1 lead in the opening set and holding on to 4-2 but once the former world number one got his range, the momentum switched dramatically with a run of nine consecutive games.
Gulbis did require some treatment to his back and he fought hard to take the third into a tie-break where he only gained two points.
Djokovic’s main problem was the state of Centre Court, echoing other players concerns on the breaking up of the surface. “I haven’t had that kind of experience before in Wimbledon. Obviously different weather conditions can affect the quality of the grass, I would assume. The more you play on it, the worse it is, obviously,” he said.
Adrian Mannarino awaits the Serb in round four, the unseeded Frenchman having upset his seeded compatriot Gael Monfils, 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-2. Mannarino made the news a couple of days ago when he was fined £7,000 for bumping into a ball-boy, no doubt accidentally. Nonetheless he was penalised by the umpire for that misdemeanour during a changeover in his match with Yuichi Sugita which was followed up by the fine.
In other third round matches Milos Raonic, last year’s finalist, fought his way past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(3) 6-4 7-5, the Spaniard, a clay-court specialist, frustrating the Canadian with his returns only to eventually succumb to the superior power.
Seeded 6, the 6’5” 26-year-old was happy with his performance. “I did a lot of things well today,” Raonic said. “I was efficient on my serve. As the match went on I felt I was dictating more from the baseline.”
His fourth-round opponent is the younger Zverev brother, Alexander, who eased past Austria’s qualifier Sebastian Offner 6-4 6-4 6-2 out on Court No.2.
The appearance of two brothers in the third round is the first time since the Gullikson twins, Tom and Tim, made that stage back in 1984.
In other matches Tomas Berdych went through routinely against David Ferrer 6-3 6-4 6-3 while Dominic Thiem was kept on court for longer before overcoming the unseeded American Jared Donaldson 7-5 6-4 6-2. Berdych and Thiem contest a quarter-final place in the next round.