When it comes to post codes and a bed to sleep in, Roger Federer calls Basel his home. But his professional place of residence, the temple where he unwraps his skills and wiles and irresistible tennis, is Wimbledon’s Centre Court. And it was here that, in pursuit of what would be a unique eighth Championships singles title, he won his 67th match here (against seven defeats) by bundling out the 6ft 6in Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-3,6-2,6-0.
Since he has usually been defending champion, most of those victories were posted in front of a delighted Centre Court audience. But it is safe to say that even the 31-year-old master has rarely scaled the heights of genius as he did today in a contest which lasted just 69 minutes. That was the sort of time that the likes of Fred Perry used to send the opposition packing, in the days when there was no break or a sit-down at the changeovers.
To say that Federer was masterly is a statement borne out by the score. He came on court holding a 5-0 winning record against the his opponent and Hanescu’s hang-dog appearance indicated that he knew well enough that he was on the way to a sixth defeat. Federer called it “a perfect day” and he was right.
He landed 70 per cent of his first serves on target, and 90 per cent of them were winners. He struck 32 winners, against a mere six unforced errors and there were seven aces and no double-faults – statistics of the steam roller. The top-quality winning shots overwhelmed Hanescu like an avalanche, gathering pace and power until the debacle of the third set which lasted just 18 minutes.
Federer reeled off the love games to take the first set in 24 minutes and the second set lasted just three minutes longer. Hanescu briefly delayed things by holding serve with a net cord winner, but a sixth ace from the defending champion closed out that set, too.
Hanescu stuck manfully to his task, even occasionally contriving an eye-catching winner, none better than a glorious lob in the fourth game of the final set. On the principle of anything you can do I can do better, in the next game Federer produced a lob even better – as it needed to be to clear the reach of such tall opposition.
Just what Hanescu was up against was shown by one of his own statistics. His serving was excellent, with 85 per cent of his first deliveries on target, but he managed to eke out only 14 winners from such a good percentage.
While conceding that a longer time spent on Centre Court might be advantageous in the early stages of the Championships, Federer stressed: “I pack my bags for five sets every single time, so I’m happy things went well today because we have seen surprise losses happen too often.
“I guess at the end of the day you would prefer to have it this way, walk away a winner instead of being out there five hours and losing in the first round. “
Today there was never the remotest chance of that happening.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all