Roger Federer makes light work of Lorenzo Sonego to reach Wimbledon quarter-finals after straight sets win as 39-year-old Swiss continues bid for a record 21st Grand Slam titleRoger Federer coasted into the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday eveningThe 39-year-old Swiss held off rising star Lorenzo Sonego on Centre CourtFederer may not be what he once was but he is still a major threat on the grass
On he goes, an old rock that has retained the grace of a skimming pebble. There will soon come a time when the decline in Roger Federer’s game tips a balance, but thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.
Whether he has enough in his tank for a 21st Slam is open to considerable doubt, but it should be no small joy that a man who turns 40 next month has reached another quarter-final here.
That he became the oldest man to do so in the Open era is an irrelevance when set against his other records, but it does say something for his enduring appetite and capacity for walloping the next generation.
Roger Federer coasted into the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday evening on Centre Court
Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego has impressed this year but he had no answers in a straight sets defeat
Not that this tangle with Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego was always easy.
There were times in the first set when he was framing the ball to all sorts of forgotten corners on Centre Court, but some maturing fellas just need to work their way into the day.
When he arrived, around the start of the second set, he mauled a 26-year-old who had come armed with a big serve and a forehand to match.
We will soon find out if the overall package can be truly competitive in the deep end of a fortnight, and cold analysis would suggest he has shown little across four matches to cause Novak Djokovic any great anxiety. But this surface has always aligned with his gifts and has often looked his best chance of a first Slam since the start of 2018.
Federer continues to fulfil his role as the Benjamin Button of the sport as he refuses to age
Sonego had moments of joy but they were fleeting as he never made dents in Federer’s serve
There is also a slight fortuitousness in the circumstances, which means his next opponent, either Daniil Medvedev or Hubert Hurkacz, will have a day less to recover owing to the rain that forced them off in the fourth set. Maybe such incidentals will add up to nothing. Maybe not. Maybe it is fun to still be in a position to wonder.
On any advantage he might hold over Medvedev or Hurkacz, Federer said: ‘These guys are young and can recover. It’s not a problem for them. Unfortunately they are very, very good, too. Hopefully it rains again tomorrow.’
The last line was delivered with a laugh, and possibly a sense of relief after the awkwardness of the first set against the 23rd seed. It really was a thrilling mess. Thrilling because the unfancied Italian came to play, especially with a serve that occasionally topped 130mph; a mess because Federer was making so many unforced errors.
The latter was at its most glaring with a Federer forehand volley that he shanked only a fraction below the royal box at 2-1 down, setting a pattern that continued throughout, most incongruously off a backhand that has killed forests over the years via all the gushing descriptions.
Federer does not think young players are punished more for having shorter turnarounds
Despite all that it was Federer who took first blood with a break for 4-3, but he was broken back to love as Sonego made it 5-5.
Rain forced them off at break point Federer in the next game, and on the resumption under the roof the younger guy double faulted. Federer closed the set in spite of a massive 17 unforced errors, but motored home in great comfort thereafter.
He got the decisive break for 3-2 in the second and after running through to 6-4, he then forced two more in the opening three games of the third.
His unforced error count across that latter pair of sets was just nine and his winners 18 – clearly he can still shift gears when he needs to, but not all opponents will dip as markedly as Sonego, whose level did fall substantially.
‘I am extremely happy,’ Federer said. ‘I couldn’t be more excited to be the quarters. It is a big moment.’
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