Federer: 'I Couldn't Surprise Him. That's A Bad Feeling'
Eight-time champion reflects on quarter-final loss to Anderson
After falling in five sets to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, Roger Federer admitted that he lost the ability to surprise his opponent, who came from two sets down for the third time in his career, to score a stunning upset on No. 1 Court.
“The first set felt great,” said Federer. “[I was] reading the serve. He wasn't getting many aces. When I was on, I was making him play. From the baseline I felt like I could mix it up and play aggressive. There was a lot going on.
“As the match went on, I couldn't surprise him any more. That's a bad feeling to have. It's not like it hasn't happened before. I've been in many, many matches like this... I couldn't come up with enough good stuff for him to miss more. I think that was the key at the end.”
The 36-year-old, who entered the match having won 81 consecutive service games at The All England Club, looked in full control of the quarter-final clash as he closed in on a record 35th consecutive set at SW19 to clinch a straight-sets victory. But Federer slowly lost his grip on the encounter after failing to convert match point at 5-4 Ad Out in the third set, while Anderson began to find the lines following an increase in aggression.
”Today, when I needed it, I couldn't get [my level] up... I didn't see it coming,” admitted Federer. “From that standpoint, I felt great in practice, good in the warm up. I am feeling the ball well. Even now, losing, I still feel like the feeling is there. It just happened to be that today wasn't the day.”
Federer, who was bidding to reach his 13th Wimbledon quarter-final, discussed how he struggled to find his best level after racing to a one-set lead in under half an hour.
”[It was] just a bad day from my side, except the first set,” said Federer. “After that, I never really felt exactly 100 per cent. That has nothing to do with my opponent. It was just one of those days where you hope to get by somehow. I could have. I should have."
The top seed had played four hours and three minutes less than Anderson coming into the last-eight meeting and appeared mentally and physically fresh throughout the four-hour, 14-minute duel. Federer also entered the fifth set with far greater experience, having played 50 deciding fifth sets compared to Anderson’s 20.
“I felt good actually. Sure, it's disappointing losing the next two sets after winning the first two and having match point. I've been there before. I know what kind of energy I need to bring to the fifth. I was able to bring that,” said Federer.
“To be honest, I didn't feel mental fatigue. Now I feel horribly fatigued and just awful. It's just terrible. But that's how it goes, you know. Credit to him.”
At the conclusion of his 20th consecutive Wimbledon campaign, Federer owns a 95-12 record at The All England Club and holds a record eight Gentlemen’s Singles titles. The 98-time tour-level titlist took a moment to reflect on his love for the grass-court Grand Slam championship.
“I just love being around [Wimbledon],” said Federer. “It's a good vibe. We have a good time as a family. I have great memories from here. My heroes all won here. Every time I come back here, I try to be like them, so it's nice to be here.”
But Federer, who was bidding to win consecutive Wimbledon titles for the first time in since 2007, added that he is not sure how long it may take to get over the surprise loss.
“I don't know how long it's going to take me. It might take me a while or it might take me half an hour. I have no idea what it's going to be.
“Of course, the goal is to come back here next year. I wouldn't call it unfinished business. I felt like I did some good business here in the past already. So I'm all right. [I am] just disappointed now.”
Federer, who has held the No. 1 ATP Ranking on three occasions this season, drops to 25-4 in 2018. The 36-year-old has won three tour-level titles from five finals this year.
Federer opened his season by winning his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, before clinching returns to the top spot after title runs at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Federer also reached championship matches at the BNP Paribas Open in March and the Gerry Weber Open in June.