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Federer's great escape steals limelight

Roger Federer serves to Julien Benneteau on Centre Court.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Saturday 30 June 2012

As the New York Times put it, 'Second Shocker Lurks, but Federer Slips By'. "Roger Federer avoided his earliest Wimbledon exit since 2002, when he lost in the first round, back before the 16 grand slam titles and 23 grand slam final appearances that catapulted him into the pantheon of sporting greats. Julien Benneteau is certain that Federer is the best," wrote Ben Shpigel. "He was also certain that disappointment would set in later. He realised how close he was to joining Lukas Rosol as someone who shocked a sport and muddled a tournament. When Benneteau returned to the locker-room, the staff cheered for him. It was almost perfect." 

Linda Pearce of Melbourne’s The Age wrote of "the ghost of Rafael Nadal swirling around under the Centre Court roof that had enclosed the upset of the tournament - and perhaps the decade". But Federer "narrowly avoided following his great rival out of the men's draw in a dramatic prime-time sequel. It was a marvellous and at times desperate comeback from Federer". 

Neil Harman of The Times observed that "it was hard to reconcile that this was the same Benneteau who, having fallen so awkwardly on his wrist during the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters in April, did not think he would recover until the Olympic Games at least. And yet here he was, swinging freely, giving as good as he received, and making Federer flunk the most basic of shots for the best part of a couple of hours. Federer is not best known for digging deep, more for sailing serenely away from the opposition, but until he tired in the fifth set having been two points from victory in the fourth, Benneteau was more than his equal." 

Elsewhere in The Times, Alyson Rudd goes in search of more information about Rosol and discovers that he used to be married to Denisa Rosolova, the European indoor champion over 400 metres. "Until now, Rosol was saved from anonymity by having been married to a more successful athlete. They were married for three years but they barely saw each other because of their sporting commitments and divorced last year." Rudd also learnt that Rosol has two tattoos: "On his left calf he has the Haka symbol and on his right shoulder he has the head of a snake. He is also considered a bit of an adrenalin junkie and has a weakness for fast cars." 

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