Roger Federer finds his rhythm, reaches Week 2 at Wimbledon

National Sports

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates winning a point against Britain’s Cameron Norrie during the men’s singles third round match on day six of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Roger Federer knows, naturally, that this Wimbledon marks his last Grand Slam tournament before turning 40. He knows, too, that he hadn’t played a third-round match at a major in nearly 1 1/2 years. And, truthfully, he knows he can’t possibly know how many more he has left.

Maybe that combination of factors led to the un-Federer-like reaction — arms raised in a “V,” followed by a big shout and a vigorous fist pump — when his 123 mph serve was returned into the net to end his 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Saturday.

There also was this: Federer, who had two operations on his right knee in 2020 and had played only eight matches this season until this week, considered the 29th-seeded Norrie somewhat of a measuring stick — he used the phrase “reference point” — for where his game stands.

“I thought I was extremely calm throughout the match. Maybe that’s why I saved all the emotions for the very end of the match,” said Fededer, whose birthday is Aug. 8, making him the oldest man to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon since Ken Rosewall was 40 in 1975.

“If I can beat somebody of his level, who’s played well last week, who is playing at home, who’s played a ton of matches. … I know who I beat, you know what I mean?” he explained. “It’s not just like a guy that can play good on the day. He’s a good player.”

There was decidedly no home-court advantage for Norrie; there were more “Come on, Roger!” cries from spectators, old and young, than there were pleas of “Come on, Cam!”

And Federer, who has won a men’s-record eight of his 20 Grand Slam trophies at the All England Club, delivered.

He had 48 winners to 33 unforced errors and won the point on 30 of 38 trips to the net, including 11 of 11 when playing serve-and-volley.

Next will come Federer’s 69th appearance in the fourth round at a major tournament. On Monday, he plays No. 23 seed Lorenzo Sonego, a 26-year-old from Italy who has made it this far for the second time at a Slam.

“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my rhythm now, at this point,” Federer said.

Moments later, he said this about Saturday’s performance: “Maybe one of the first times I just felt very much at peace out there. Really sort of a tranquility, I guess, to everything I was doing — where I wanted to serve, how I wanted to win my service games, then how I took misses, how I took wrong choices. I just brushed them off.”

INJURED OR NOT?

So much for a warm handshake and friendly exchange of pleasantries up at the net. Ajla Tomljanovic and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko did not quite see eye-to-eye about a medical timeout in the third set of their match at Wimbledon.

Right after getting broken to trail 4-0 in the last set, Ostapenko sat down at the sideline and told the chair umpire she needed to see a trainer.

Such exams usually happen at changeovers, but Ostapenko insisted: “I cannot continue. I have pain.”

To which Tomljanovic reacted by telling the chair umpire: “You know she’s lying, right? We all know.”

Eventually, the trainer came, then left with Ostapenko to go to the locker room. In all the match was delayed for 12 minutes. Tomljanovic went to a baseline and practiced some serves; she also did some stretching to stay warm.

When play resumed, Ostapenko immediately won a game, but Tomljanovic wound up with a 4-6 6-4, 6-2 victory to reach the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time — and at any Grand Slam tournament for the first time in seven years.

When the match ended, they quickly and perfunctorily clasped hands, then exchanged words, with Ostapenko saying, “Your behavior is terrible,” and Tomljanovic replying, “Honestly, you’re the one to talk.”

Afterward, in her video conference with reporters, Tomljanovic said: “She can say she was injured. I don’t think she was. There was nothing wrong with her the whole match. … She just wanted to get me off my game.”

She called Ostapenko’s behavior “disgraceful.” And Ostapenko thought being called a liar was “very, very disrespectful” of Tomljanovic.

‘UM, HEY, VENUS? IT’S NICK’

Being forced to stop playing his third-round singles match because of injury wasn’t the worst part for Nick Kyrgios.

He was more worried about having to break some bad news to Venus Williams, his mixed doubles partner.

”I just got goose bumps thinking (about) the fact I might have to tell Venus Williams I can’t play mixed doubles because of injuries,” Kyrgios said Saturday. ”It’s going to be heartbreaking.”

Kyrgios had been playing, in his own words, ”lights out” in the first set against 16th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime. But Kyrgios retired after splitting two sets because of an abdominal injury that was hampering his powerful serve.

It ended his chances of making the second week at the All England Club for the first time since 2016.

And he figured it would put an end to his teaming up with the 41-year-old Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion. They won their first-round match Friday.

”I haven’t had that much fun in a long time,” Kyrgios said. ”She obviously won’t be too happy about it, too. She doesn’t know how many Wimbledons maybe she’s going to play again.”

Kyrgios won the first set 6-2 against Auger-Aliassime but said he started feeling pain in a stomach muscle while trailing 4-1 in the second. He told a trainer he was worried about tearing a muscle and conceded after the second set ended 6-1.

This was Kyrgios’ first tournament since the Australian Open in February.

”My game is obviously there,” Kyrgios said. ”I’m making the guy look pretty average in the first set, and I haven’t played a tournament in six months.”

Close enough, Nick.

The match began with the sort of thing Kyrgios has done before: He showed up to play without his grass-court tennis shoes, so the match was delayed while the footwear was procured for him.

“The one day I thought I was being a professional,” Kyrgios joked. “Walking out here so confidently and then — bang! Left the shoes in the locker room.”

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AP Sports Writer Mattias Karen in London contributed to this report.

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More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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