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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, July 5, 2021

 
Roger Federer

An assertive Roger Federer swept Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 soaring into his record-extending 18th Wimbledon quarterfinal.

Photo credit: Getty

Advancing age and explosive young opponents aren't gaining ground on Roger Federer in this fortnight.

The 39-year-old Federer brought elevation to the Centre Court lawn flying over all obstacles landing a record-extending 18th Wimbledon quarterfinal.

Berrettini: My Best is Now

Asserting his transition game, Federer deployed variety defeating Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 to become the oldest Wimbledon men's quarterfinalist in Open era history.




Four matches into his 22nd Wimbledon apperance, Federer is finding his footing and increasingly moving forward with confidence.

"With my game early on in a tournament, especially on grass where I expect service winners and aces to happen, that was not possible," Federer said. "I understood why today. Then I just felt like now I've had some good progress. I'm taking the ball earlier.

"Obviously I've gotten used to the conditions, gotten used to the balls, the court speed. I'm able to take more balls on the rise, on the half volley. All these little things make a difference at the end of the day."

On an evening that marked the end of one major tradition—it's the last Manic Monday in tournament history as Wimbledon will play on the traditionally silent Middle Sunday next year—Federer extended another moving into his record 58th Grand Slam quarterfinal. That puts Federer eight quarterfinals ahead of reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who swept Cristian Garin to cruise into his 50th major elite eight.

While Djokovic remains the strong favorite to capture his sixth Wimbledon crown and match rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal's major mark with his 20th Grand Slam championship, Federer's performance tonight was his smoothest of the fortnight. Moving with self-assurance, Federer's all-court acumen was key: he won 29 of 46 trips to net raising his Wimbledon record to 105-13.

"I'm extremely happy," Federer said. "Again tricky conditions inside and outside against Lorenzo's always dangerous. But I think after the first set I was able to control things.

"It was a great match. I couldn't be more excited to be in the quarters. It's a big moment and I'm very very happy."

Aiming for a trip to a 13th Wimbledon final, Federer could benefit from the rainy weather as well.

The sixth-seeded Swiss will play the winner of the fourth-round clash between second-ranked Daniil Medvedev and 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, which was suspended by rain with the Russian holding up two sets to one serving at 3-4 in the fourth set. That match will be completed tomorrow meaning the winner will be playing the third day in a row facing Federer for a semifinal spot.

"These guys are young they can recover; it's not a problem for them," Federer said. "Unfortunately they're very good too. Hopefully it rains again tomorrow—I'm kidding."

Facing the 27th-ranked Sonego for the second time in a Slam, Federer's movement, balance and his forehand were all more efficient and effective than they had been in prior rounds. Attacking the Italian's backhand, Federer frequently stepped into the court and pressed the issue in rallies.



Finding his range and rhythm, Federer went on the attack in the fifth game. The former No. 1 earned three break points, but Sonego stung biting serves to save the first two and denied the third on a Federer forehand error. Sonego survived a tough 12-minute hold for 3-2.

That pressure was a prelude. The breeze stiffened and Sonego's accuracy wilted as he faced triple break point. The Italian saved the first, but swept a forehand down the line beyond the baseline as Federer broke first for 4-3.

Stepping up to serve for the set, Federer blinked. Sonego surprised the Swiss scooping a lob winner then Federer pushed a pair of backhand volleys out as the Italian leaped on the lapse breaking at love to level after 10 games.

Sonego flicked a forehand winner from right off the baseline—his 11th straight point—building a 40-love lead in the 11th game. Federer fought back earning his third break point of the game when Sonego's shot expired in net. Playing a short forehand right back at Federer, Sonego, who can slam-dunk a basketball, soared for a smash to save the break point in stirring style. Entertaining exchanges had fans roaring as Federer carved out an angled forehand volley for a fourth break point.

A spitting rain grew heavier prompting a 23-minute delay as officials closed the retractable roof over Centre Court.

The delay didn't exactly soothe Sonego, who returned to double-fault the break ceding a 6-5 lead to the Swiss.

Serving for the set again, Federer made a flurry of forehand errors to face two break points. Probing the edges of the service box, Federer fought off both break points leaving his opponent howling. Sifting a deep forehand volley brought him a set point. Federer spun a forehand into the corner wrapping a tricky and tense opening set in 61 minutes.

Striking cleanly and varying the direction of his forehand shrewdly, Federer dipped a pass Sonego could not handle for break point. Setting his feet, Federer turned his hips and shoulders into a laser forehand breaking for a 3-2 second-set lead.

Soaring high for a backhand smash, Federer made the toughest shot in tennis look elegantly explosive. That shot helped him serve out the second set at love after one hour, 41-minutes.

Tennis Express

The Swiss' superior transition skills and net play were pivotal: Federer won 25 points at net compared to seven for the Italian through the first two sets.

Contesting his 12th Grand Slam, Sonego's bid for a first major quarterfinal dimmed considerably as he slapped a forehand into net gifting the break to open the third set.

Federer fired out to a 4-0 third-set start and never looked back capping a two-hour, 11-minute win to keep this Wimbledon ride going.

 

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