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Federer Poised And Polished Under Pressure

Wimbledon, England

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer raised his game in the tight moments to rally past Julien Benneteau.

The tennis world almost spun on its axis for the second time in 24 hours on Friday at The Championships.

Rafael Nadal’s loss to Lukas Rosol on Thursday night had been the talk of the All England Club all day, but at 8:50 p.m., it looked as if one of Wimbledon’s greatest champions might be following Nadal to the airport.

Julien Benneteau, the No. 29 seed, led Roger Federer, the six-time former titlist, 6-4, 7-6(3), with a nerve-free and faultless performance. Although Federer raised his game to take the third set 6-2, on six occasions in the fourth set, Benneteau came within two points of winning the third-round encounter, under a closed roof, on Centre Court.

In a pressurised tie-break, Benneteau rushed the net to save one set point at 5-6 to force Federer into a backhand error. At 6-6, the Frenchman hit a backhand long, before being forced into a forehand error on Federer’s set point opportunity.

"I did start to play better and better as the match went on, and that's kind of what I expected of myself once a set down or two sets to love down," said Federer. "That I guess comes with experience, but also experience alone is not going to win you the match. I had to push deep and extremely hard, and I'm very happy with the way things sort of happened at the end."

Federer raced through the deciding set 6-1 in 26 minutes, losing just 11 points, to leave Benneteau inconsolable. It ended Benneteau’s four-match winning streak in five-set matches.

"He arrived to win this match in five sets, and he was not in control," Benneteau said. "At the end of the fourth set, his serve was incredible. Only first serve, only first serve, only first serve. He didn't make a lot of mistakes.

"I hit the ball very well today and I was in good shape. I knew that if I wanted to have one chance to win, I should take control of the rally and be aggressive and not let him play and direct the rally with his forehand."

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