Wednesday 21 March 2018

Querry has no answers as cool-hand Federer turns on the style


Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after winning his match against Sam Querrey of the U.S.A. at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 2
Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after winning his match against Sam Querrey of the U.S.A. at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 2

Jim White

For a moment during Roger Federer’s second-round victory over Sam Querry, it was as if the Centre Court crowd was watching one of those veterans’ exhibitions in which the passing of time is disguised by a profusion of trick shots.

So smooth, so accomplished, so easy was this encounter, midway through the second set Federer unleashed a wonderfully inventive lob, struck from between his legs.

Those who know these things say it is known technically as “a front tweener”. Such language does scant justice to Federer’s elegant choreography.

“It was a perfect shot,” he said afterwards. “But if you don’t win the point you do look a little silly.”

Federer, of course, was never in danger of looking silly: he won the point, when the ball bounced with textbook geometry just inside the line. If this was an exhibition, it was in the art of ruthless execution.

“Today was definitely a good day,” the man himself added, eschewing all hint of false modesty. “Across the board I was really rock solid and really happy.”

There was a rumour that, during his first-round match here, when the temperature on Centre Court topped 40C, the coolest man in tennis had broken sweat.

As if to put paid to such libellous nonsense, on a day when half the crowd would have happily shed some skin in the attempt to remain below the point of combustion, the third seed arrived on court wearing a tracksuit top over his playing kit, apparently in need of extra layers to protect against the chill.

 And the man who carries his own internal refrigeration system then proceeded to smooth his way to victory without any evident suggestion of leakage from his pores.

At times he was so excellent, so close to the form that brought him seven Wimbledon titles, he had the crowd emitting that sound that only ever seems to soundtrack his performances, a sort of awed amalgam of a wow and a purr.

It was not as if Querry was a mug opponent. The American likes grass; he won the title at Queen’s in 2010 and he is so fond of Wimbledon’s turf he has to be dragged off court – he holds the record for the second longest match ever played here.

But he was not allowed to linger on this occasion. Federer had dispatched him back to the locker room in under 90 minutes, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 with an ease that was at times contemptuous.

Querry, belying his gawky lankiness to unleash a serve that topped 135mph, managed to keep parity until the eighth game of the first set.

Then Federer simply eased away, winning the next five games to take unassailable control. And he did so by playing tennis on another orbit. One forehand return, played from way beyond the tramlines, which Querry assumed must be going out and made no attempt to chase, bent and arced so sharply it ended up bouncing just behind his ankles.

Generous in defeat, Querry revealed that he found some of Federer’s shots so astonishing, he felt like vaulting the net to high five him in congratulation. He wasn’t the only one. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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