For those of you who may have blinked and missed it, Roger Federer won on Monday. It was not so much the serene, regal progress into the second round that we have come to expect from the Great One at this time of year; this was more your Usain Bolt sprint into the second round – a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 clobbering of poor Albert Ramos in just 79 minutes.
Quite what Ramos had done to deserve this sort of treatment is anyone’s guess but Federer, the six-times champion and a member of the All England Club for the past 10 years, was not exactly warm and welcoming to the Wimbledon debutant. This was only Ramos’s second match on grass – his first was last week at Eastbourne. He lost that one, too – but before he had had time to sniff the air and admire the view, he was being bundled back to the locker room, his Wimbledon experience cut short by a meeting with greatness.
There is little to say about the nuts and bolts of the match other than Federer was very, very good and Ramos wasn’t. The lefthander from Barcelona tried his best but when you are only allowed to win around a third of the points on offer (47 of 138 to be precise), your chances of success are somewhat limited.
Indeed, so one-sided was the encounter that Federer found that he had a bit of time on his hands. What to do? Maybe a little experimentation; how about a bit of serve and volley. Haven’t tried that for a while – let’s give it a whirl.
“I was able to do that a bit more than I thought I could,” Federer mused. “I was happy with the way things progressed during the match. I was able to return well, almost break him every single time. It was a good match for me, obviously. I felt very good out there today.
“Obviously being up a double break very often, or at least a break, up 30‑Love on your serve, you don't feel any pressure doing it. It's rare to be up in the scoreline like today on a regular basis. It is maybe why it is a good time to try it out. Then you can use it in tougher moments, difficult moments, to throw your opponents off. Who knows if I'll need it down the stretch. We'll see.”
As Federer sat before the assembled throng in his post-match press conference, he looked calm, unruffled and utterly at home. The media, on the other hand, looked a little flummoxed. What is there to ask about a near-flawless performance against a bloke who usually earns his crust on the slower, higher bouncing clay courts? When in doubt, get technical.
We had questions about the type of racket Federer uses, we had a bit more about the mechanics of serve and volley and then we even ventured into foreign territory – what did our hero think of Tiger Woods’s efforts at the US Open? As it turned out, Federer had not seen a ball struck in earnest and so had no pearls of wisdom to cast before the press.
As for what makes Messrs Federer, Djokovic and Nadal so special, the Great One made it sound so simple: “I don't know,” he said. “I guess mental, physical, and talent, putting those three things together.”
Of course, life will get considerably harder as the rounds progress and next in line for the Swiss maestro is Fabio Fognini, the world No.68 from Italy. Then again, the two have only met once before and Fognini only won two games. Best keep your eyes peeled or you might miss that one, too.