Federer: SABR Keeps It Entertaining
Fifteen years to the day after his first title at the All England Club, Roger Federer looked very much like the champion he first became in 2003 as he clinched his spot in the second week of The Championships on Friday.
The top seed stretched his Wimbledon consecutive sets won streak to 29, beating German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 in 94 minutes. Six more flawless sets and Federer will snap his own record of 34 consecutive Wimbledon sets, which he achieved between the third round in 2005 and the 2006 final. Today's victory, his 175th on grass, also saw Federer break a tie with Jimmy Connors for the most match wins on the surface. (Learn More)
“I'm happy I found a way today. Some moments where it can be frustrating because you're not finding any rhythm, at times you're more reacting than playing active tennis. But it's okay. I knew that going in. I'm just very pleased that I found a way in that first set, then also stayed calm in the second set,” Federer said.
The eight-time champion was at his best from the start against Struff, breaking the aggressive German with a backhand pass for a 4-2 lead. Struff threw almost everything at Federer, serving and volleying and charging the net 31 times (16/31).
But Federer handled it all and had his own tricks, including a successful third-set appearance by his trademark SABR – Sneak Attack By Roger – for the 28-year-old right-hander. The Swiss tossed in his slice well, forcing the 6'5” German to lumber and bend down for skidding balls.
Struff didn't fade, though, playing his best in the second set to get to 5-5. But Federer broke in the 11th game with a backhand slice return that Struff could only watch float past him.
The German had come back from two sets down in both of his earlier matches, against 32nd seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. But not against Federer, who broke in the third and seventh games and never faced a break point.
“I'm happy I did it. I'm happy it worked,” Federer said of his SABR attempt. “After that I feel like I got, how do you say, there is a buzz for me. 'Okay, shall I do it again, no? What shall I do now this next time?' I think it just helps me with keeping it exciting.
“I already always have the option of slicing or coming over. Then with the SABR, I think it makes it more fun for me. That's always the idea for me in practice or matches, keep it entertaining, keep things going. I always look for new ways to win the point.”
Federer has yet to be broken at SW19, and it's the fourth time he's reached the Round of 16 without dropping serve (2004, won title; 2014, finalist; 2015, finalist).
The top seed will next meet France's Adrian Mannarino, who booked his third trip to the Wimbledon fourth round with a 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3 win against Russian Daniil Medvedev. The 22nd-seeded Mannarino will try to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final and pick up his maiden victory against Federer, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0.
Read More: The Maturation of Mannarino