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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, July 6, 2019

 
Roger Federer

Roger Federer reached rare air flying past Lucas Pouille into the Wimbledon fourth round becoming the first player—man or woman—to earn 350 career Grand Slam victories.

Photo credit: Getty

The retractable roof above Centre Court was open as Roger Federer climbed rare air.

Deadlocked at 5-all, Federer scaled break-point hurdle leaping above the lawn to snap off successive smashes.

More: 5 Takeaways From Rafael Nadal's First Week at Wimbledon

Elevating his level at every test launched Federer on a six-game spurt for a 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over Lucas Pouille into the Wimbledon fourth round for his record 17th Wimbledon round of 16 appearance.

Federer stuck a historic landing becoming the first player in history—man or woman—to earn 350 career Grand Slam victories.

"I mean, the records mean something to me, but not everything just because I am very much aware that not everybody for the last hundred years played all the slams," Federer told the media afterward. "It's really only the last 20 years that that's been going on. Traveling has gotten easier.

"I'm sure that's going to keep happening from now on, most of the players will keep playing. Yeah, so for me, I'm very happy how it's going so far. I thought it was a good match with Lucas today. Of course, I hope it's going to take a special performance from somebody to stop me, not just a mediocre performance. I'm happy that I'm able to raise my level of play."

The flight toward a 21st Grand Slam title could hit turbulence in week two.

Our Top 5 Takeways from Federer’s Wimbledon week one.

1. Roger’s Records

Federer once worked as a ball boy during a Jimmy Connors match and surpassed the Hall of Famer for most Wimbledon round of 16 appearances today before a crowd of distinguished champions, including Billie Jean King and Rod Laver.




The second-seeded Swiss’ graceful, stress-free style and GPS-like ability to detect the direction of rallies has aided his longevity.

Desire and a dedication to the cause that came 15 years ago have fueled Federer’s long run.

“I think I also wanted to play for a long time,” Federer said. “I felt that I took that decision a long, long time ago, not just three years ago, hopefully I can still be on tour. This was basically taken back in 2004 when I became world No. 1. I felt I would like to be on tour for a long time.

“I think when you have that mindset at a younger age, I think it's easier to sustain that later on, too.”

In his 21st Wimbledon appearance, Federer surged into his record-extending 65th career Grand Slam fourth round.

Federer improved to 35-4 on the season equaling rival Rafael Nadal, who dismissed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, for the Tour lead for most wins this season. Roger and Rafa could reunite in Episode 40 of the famed Fedal rivalry in the semifinals.

2. First-Rate Second Serve

Deception and a smooth motion make Federer’s second serve difficult to decipher. Federer leads the tournament in second-serve points won (70 percent).

Since dropping his opening set of the tournament to Lloyd Harris, Federer has won nine straight sets snuffing out second chances for opponents. In five of those nine sets, Federer has permitted two games or fewer as he’s grown sharper with each passing round.

3. Mixing Long and Short Game

Grass rewards Federer’s improvisational instincts and the Swiss imposes those skills bringing the short court into play.

In an era where baseline rallies dominate, Federer’s forays forward have distinguished him in the opening week of play.

In the seventh game of the match, Federer saved a break point rushing net then flicked a high touch backhand volley holding for 4-3.



Those successive smashes at 5-all were a launching pad for a six-game surge. Federer won 23 of 32 trips to net today.

Federer is averaging 33 trips to net in three tournament wins— knowing net play will be crucial if he meets rival Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.

4. Week One Mission Accomplished

Aiming to join Martina Navratilova as the second player to capture nine Wimbledon titles, Federer managed opening week well.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion rides an eight-match grass-court winning streak into the fourth round and he hasn’t expended too much energy to progress to the second week.




We’ve seen Federer’s all-court acumen on display. He’s played the assertive, dynamic tennis he’ll need to produce should he face Nadal in the highly-anticipated second straight Grand Slam semifinal meeting between the pair.

5. Who’s Next?

While Federer was soaring into the record book, his fourth-round opponent, Matteo Berrettini, was flying high on adrenaline.



The 17th-seeded Berrettini fought off three match points in the fourth set igniting an inspired 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman becoming the fifth Italian man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon round of 16.

Berrettini bombed 22 aces and denied 13 of 15 break points chances in a gripping four hour, 19-minute victory to reach his first Grand Slam fourth round in his fifth major appearance.

The 6’5” Italian is a much better mover than his size suggests and is playing the most imposing grass-court tennis of his career. Berrettini, who beat Felix Auger-Aliassime to win his first grass-court crown in Stuttgart last month, raised his grass record to 12-1 on the season.

How will the lanky Italian respond after a four hour, 19-minute battle, while a fresh Federer has only been pushed past the two-hour mark once in three matches? Federer will surely test the big man’s legs with short slices early when they meet for the first time on Monday.


 

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