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Federer overcomes slow start to ease past Harris in Wimbledon opener - 'I just took a bit of time'

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 3 Jul 2019
  • Federer uses his experience to weather early storm and topple Harris in four sets
  • It was the first time since 2010 that Federer had lost a set in the opening round of Wimbledon
Roger Federer (PA Images)

Roger Federer bounced back from a slow start to glide past Wimbledon rookie Lloyd Harris in four sets and secure his spot in the second round on Tuesday.

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Federer’s last match at Wimbledon saw the Swiss crash out to a big-serving South African, and for a moment, it looked like Harris was capable of causing another seismic shock at The Championships.

Harris, making his Wimbledon debut at 22 years of age, produced some fearless tennis in the opening set, breaking Federer and calmly serving it out as he took the initial advantage, but the eight-time Wimbledon champion began to find his groove in the second, and from there it was one-way traffic as the 37-year-old dropped just five more games for the match to complete a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Roger Federer (PA Images)
It was the first time Federer had been broken in the first round of Wimbledon since 2012 and the first time since 2010 that he had dropped a set. However, the Swiss finished with some eye-catching numbers, winning 29 of his 31 approaches to the net and firing 41 winners to just 14 unforced errors.

“I just felt like [the court] was slow. I couldn't really have any impact. He was doing a good job of returning me... I wasn't hitting my spots, and he was reading my serve, or he was just doing a good job,” Federer said. “I just struggled. As my legs weren't moving, it's hard to see the short ball. In defence, you're weak. The next thing you know you're struggling. That's what I had going.
“But I think with my experience I stayed calm. I know I have other things in the bag that I can come up with, other tricks. I just took a bit of time.”

Federer is coming off a record 10th title triumph at the Noventi Open in Halle, which doubled as his 102 career title. Of his eight Wimbledon victories, Federer has won the Halle title five times preceding it.

After suffering a shock loss to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals last year, blowing a two-sets-to-love lead, Federer returns to Wimbledon with a lot more match practice under his belt, competing in three clay-court tournaments - making the quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome and the semis at Roland Garros - before his aforementioned run to the title in Halle.

Federer will next face young British player Jay Clarke in the second round on Thursday. Clarke, 20, was born in 1998 - the year Federer won the Wimbledon junior title.

Meanwhile, Federer also spoke about the early exits of top 10 seeds Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, revealing some of his tough moments after early round elimination at the beginning of his own career.

“I understand. I was Mr. Emotional, so I come from that same side. I would cry after losing matches throughout my junior years. Some take it harder. Some take it more relaxed. Some take hours to get over it. Some take days,” Federer said.


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Federer overcomes slow start to ease past Harris in Wimbledon opener - "I just took a bit of time"

Roger Federer bounced back from a slow start to glide past Wimbledon rookie Lloyd Harris in four sets and secure his spot in the second round on Tuesday.

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