Roger Federer narrowly avoided joining Rafael Nadal in a second-round exit at Wimbledon, and then declared the Spaniard’s loss good for the sport.
Nadal’s five-set defeat by little-known Czech Lukas Rosol on Thursday night was one of tennis’ great upsets, and it looked like it would be followed by another when six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer trailed Julien Benneteau by two sets to love last night.
The Swiss has reached at least the quarter-finals at the last 32 grand slams, and he kept alive his hopes of extending that record by turning things round to win 4-6 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 7-6 (8/6) 6-1.
Twenty-eight of the last 29 slams have been won by Federer, Nadal or Novak Djokovic, with Juan Martin Del Potro the only man to break the sequence.
Federer said: “Well, this is not against Rafa, but it was nice to see it’s still possible. I think 15 years ago you had matches like this so much more often on the faster surfaces, that a guy could catch fire and just run through you.
“What this victory of Rosol does is give great belief for other players that they can beat the top guys, which I think is great, even though it might not be that great for me down the stretch. Hopefully not. But it’s just great for the sport that it is possible.”
Benneteau was justifiably proud of his performance, and he said: “After a match like that, you’re a better player, for sure. So even if I lost, I think it’s going to be positive for me for the rest of the season and also for my career.”
World number one Djokovic also had a minor scare when he dropped the first set to 28th seed Radek Stepanek before recovering to triumph 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-2.
“You cannot take anyone for granted,” said Djokovic. “You just say congratulations. (What happened to Nadal) serves as an example for everybody that anything is possible in this sport.”
Djokovic’s friend and fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic did go out, though, the eighth seed losing 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3 to Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny.
Djokovic’s next opponent will be another Serb, unseeded Viktor Troicki, after he ousted 15th seed Juan Monaco while Richard Gasquet, Florian Mayer, Sam Querrey, Denis Istomin and Xavier Malisse – who now plays Federer – also won.
Today, fourth seed Andy Murray takes on former semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the third match on Centre Court while Rosol has a tough task to follow up his stunning win when he meets 27th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber on Court 12.
Three-time finalist Andy Roddick is back on Centre and looking to upset seventh seed David Ferrer, fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga meets Lukas Lacko and ninth seed Del Potro takes on Japanese hope Kei Nishikori.