Roger Federer didn’t play his best tennis on Saturday but the 39-year-old legend did enough to advance to the second week at Wimbledon and remain alive for a potential 21st major title.
No. 6 Federer took out Britain’s Cam Norrie, the No. 29 seed, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to advance to a fourth-round encounter on Monday with No. 23 Lorenzo Sonego. In the process, he improved to 27-1 in his last 28 matches against left-handers at majors.
“I’m super relieved,” Federer said on court. “It was a tough battle. It was so close…He deserved that third set. I thought he played excellent today and for me, I felt I was really able to keep a very high level of play and he got the good break there at the end of the third that cost me the set, but overall I can be very happy with how I played.”
Federer broke Norrie in the fifth game of the fourth set but wasn’t able to convert and was broken right back for 3-all. He broke again for 5-4 and then closed it out on his serve.
Federer was fortunate to advance in the first round after going into a fifth set against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who slipped on the grass toward the end of the fourth set and retired with a knee injury. After looking sluggish at times and struggling with his forehand in that match, he was much more efficient in the second round in routing another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, in straight sets.
Against Norrie, Federer served just seven aces while winning 74 percent of the points on his first serve and converting 4-of-11 break chances.
“I think overall I’m definitely playing at a high level right now,” he said. “I got lucky in that first round. My English is better, things are really going very well for me.”
Federer’s draw looks good. He now gets Sonego, 26, ranked No. 27 in the world. The Swiss won their only match in straight sets in the first round at Roland Garros in 2019.
If he wins that he could face No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic or fast-rising Polish star Hubert Hurcacz, who advanced in straight sets to face the winner between Medvedev and Cilic.
If he were to make the semifinals, he could meet No. 4 seed Sascha Zverev, who ousted American Taylor Fritz in four sets Saturday. Zverev next gets 20-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who advanced after Nick Kyrgios retired due to an injury.
Of course, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the 2019 final and revealed Friday he sees wolves as his spirit animal, looms on the other side of the draw as a potential finals opponent should Federer get that far.
Told that he was into the fourth round at a major for the 69th time in his career, Federer said, “It’s a nice stat to hear. It proves to me that when I do wake up in the morning, that that has happened.
“I’ve played a lot of tennis. I’ve loved every minute of it and I hope there’s a little bit more left in me. It’s an absolute pleasure playing right now. I guess this one’s special just because I’m almost 40, the last round before I hit the big 40. At this point it’s all a bonus and we’ll see how far I can go here.”