Under pressure, though ahead in the fourth set, Roger Federer escaped a scare when Adrian Mannarino fell and injured himself behind the baseline. Federer, whose season has been badly disrupted by injury, had been struggling badly to get to grips with Mannarino’s game. Federer has largely been out of action since the Australian Open in 2020, having undergone two knee surgeries in that time, and has looked short of his best in his fleeting appearances.
But it was still a match Federer was expected to win, with Mannarino having lost all six of his previous meetings with Federer, winning just one set in the process. He did have a history of success on the grass, however, having reached the fourth round at Wimbledon on three occasions. The Frenchman also won his ATP title on the grass in Den Bosch in 2019. He began the match confidently, matching Federer stride for stride in the early stages of the first set.
But the Swiss tightened the screw in the later stages of the first set, breaking Mannarino to 15 in the tenth and final game of the set. Mannarino fought back in the second set, battling into a tiebreak which he dominated to level the scores. He maintained that momentum in the third set. Despite throwing away an early lead, he was playing the better tennis and deservedly won it 6-3 to a lead in the match.
Federer managed to rein in his unforced errors early in the fourth set, being rewarded with a break of the Mannarino serve. But the match was very much still in the balance when Mannarino slipped trying to retrieve a Federer forehand. Mannarino attempted to continue after consulting with the trainer, but proved unable to do so, retiring after just one point of the fifth set having been unable to put any weight on his knee.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 29, 2021
Federer said after the match that Mannarino had been the better player, surely a fair assessment of the match, and expressed his sympathy for his stricken opponent. For Mannarino, it will no doubt be a bitter disappointment and his focus will now be on attempting to get fit for the forthcoming North American hard-court swing. Federer will be hoping for an improvement in his performance with the level he displayed in this match unlikely to suffice if he is to win the title.
He has bounced back from slow starts to win the title at Wimbledon before, notably needing five sets to beat Julien Benneteau in the third round before claiming the title in 2012. But Sunday’s final currently looks a long way away for the great Swiss. Particularly with the talented Richard Gasquet, a former-semifinalist at the All England Club, a potential second-round opponent.
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