Roger Federer's quest for yet another Wimbledon title kicked off in grand fashion Tuesday as the No. 4 seed decimated Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round at All England Club.
As pointed out by Erik Gudris of USA Today, Federer and his fans couldn't have asked for a much better performance:
Federer finally aces out Lorenzi on MP#6. Wins 61 61 63. Perfect start for Roger's campaign. #Wimbledon2014— Erik Gudris (@ATNtennis) June 24, 2014
The numbers don't always tell the whole story, but the stats courtesy of Wimbledon on Twitter didn't lie in this instance:
Lorenzi simply didn't have the tools necessary to compete with Federer and provide him with a true challenge, but Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times expects things to get far more difficult for Federer moving forward:
Roger Federer easily past clay-loving Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Next round, especially if against Gilles Muller, MUCH harder. #Wimbledon— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 24, 2014
It has been two years since Federer last won a Grand Slam, but that title came at Wimbledon. The Swiss superstar is a seven-time Wimbledon champion and he likes his chances of hoisting the trophy for an eighth time this year if he remains in his current form, per ATPWorldTour.com.
I feel like I'm a contender for the tournament. I feel like if things click here, I should be able to win the tournament; whereas at Roland Garros I feel like I'm slightly more dependent on (Rafael Nadal). ... (When I play at Wimbledon) it's more on my racket. As soon as that's the case, you are more confident in your chances.
Federer will have to maintain this level of play throughout the tournament and do so against much tougher competition in order to take the title, but he definitely showed a great deal of confidence and comfort on the court during his first-round rout of Lorenzi.
Playing in a Grand Slam tournament has become old hat for Federer at this point as he extended his impressive streak when the first serve was struck during Tuesday's encounter with Lorenzi, per Tennis Now:
Roger Federer's 59th consecutive appearance at a Grand Slam is underway with an EZ hold against Paolo Lorenzi.— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) June 24, 2014
Fed came out firing in the first set and had Lorenzi on his heels before the Italian underdog knew what hit him. According to ESPN Tennis, Federer raced out to an early lead with two holds and a break of Lorenzi's serve:
Federer off to a quick and fiery 3-0 start. Want to watch the action from one of the outer courts? Check out @ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) June 24, 2014
Although Lorenzi was able to stop the bleeding by holding in the fourth game of the set, the damage had already been done. Federer rattled off the final three games of the set and finished it off in blazing-quick fashion, per BBC Tennis:
Federer dominated the set in every facet, especially from a service perspective. With that in mind, it is fitting that he put an exclamation point on the opening set with a cracking ace, according to Craig O'Shannessy of The New York Times:
While Lorenzi was able to hang in there a bit longer during the second set, the result was ultimately the same. Lorenzi was once again able to salvage just one game in the second set as Federer took it in just 30 minutes.
Lorenzi was clearly over-matched, but Federer turned in a vintage performance through two sets. Conventional wisdom suggests that Federer should be on the downside of his career at the age of 32, but that didn't look to be the case on Tuesday.
Per Rene Stauffer of Tages-Anzeiger, Federer said that he felt much younger than he actually is entering the match:
Roger Federer on BBC: "I can't believe how old I am. I feel 24."— rene stauffer (@staffsky) June 24, 2014
If that is the case, then Federer has to be considered a very real contender for this tournament. Not only is he displaying the skills of his 24-year-old self, but he also has the experience and knowledge that he simply didn't possess as a younger player.
Lorenzi learned that firsthand in the first round as he was never able to put up a real fight. Federer was so dominant that he was two sets up and well on his way to winning the third despite being on the court for less than an hour, according to Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated:
Federer has played 57 minutes is up 2-0 sets and 1-0— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) June 24, 2014
If nothing else, Lorenzi was able to put up a slightly better fight in the third set. With Federer holding a 5-2 lead, Lorenzi served to stay in the match. Federer had him on the ropes on several occasions, but the underdog continued to battle despite defeat being right around the corner.
According to Dawn Rhodes of the Chicago Tribune, Federer had several opportunities to close out the match with a break, but struggled to make the decisive shots:
Federer now sees four match points come and go on Lorenzi's serve, mostly on errors from his racket. This game now 9 minutes old.— Dawn Rhodes (@rhodes_dawn) June 24, 2014
Per Chiara Gambuzza of Tennis World Italia, frustration started to set in as Federer's shots continued to go astray:
Federer having fun of himself after a shank saying "Jawohl"(Well Done)— chiara gambuzza (@ChiaraGamTWI) June 24, 2014
Federer ultimately squandered five match points before Lorenzi finally scored a well-earned hold of serve to put the pressure back on Federer's shoulders.
All Lorenzi did was delay the inevitable as Federer converted his sixth match point during the ensuing service game and finished off what was a brilliant overall performance.
With a sparkling first-round performance in Federer's back pocket, the focus now shifts toward the remainder of the tournament. In the second round, Federer will take on the winner of the match between Julien Benneteau and Gilles Muller. That seems like a fairly straightforward match for Fed on paper, but he'll have to be cautious.
Federer destroyed Victor Hanescu in the first round at Wimbledon last year and everyone was ready to put him through to the third round before his second-round match against Sergiy Stakhovsky ever happened.
How will Federer ultimately fare at Wimbledon 2014?
That proved to be a huge mistake as Stakhovsky shocked Federer in a four-set thriller that included three tiebreaks. The loss sent Federer home in almost unfathomable fashion and ousted him from a tournament that he has dominated over the years.
Perhaps Federer entered that match brimming with overconfidence or maybe it just wasn't his day. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that Federer will be far more focused in the second round this year after what happened in 2013.
Assuming Federer doesn't get upset early like he did last year, his part of the draw is there for the taking. There isn't a truly worrisome match on tap until a potential quarterfinal clash with Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka.
Potential meetings with Rafael Nadal and either Novak Djokovic or defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray loom after that, so Federer will have to earn it if he intends to win this title. Federer's play on Tuesday suggests he is primed and ready for the challenge, so hopefully he is able to keep it up for the sake of the tournament.
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