Wimbledon: Federer d. Ramos

Monday, June 25, 2012 /by

RFRRAs fans erupted in applause, Mirka Federer stood and snapped shots of her husband, Roger Federer, arriving for a rare Court No. 1 appearance clad in a cashmere zip-neck sweater with sleeves pushed up at the elbows, suggesting a man eager to start his workday. A stylish man, at that. Federer then sent the day delivering a severe dress down to Wimbledon neophyte Albert Ramos in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 first-round thrashing that lasted about as long as a photo op.

Stepping into the court to line shots into the corners and reduce Ramos to retriever status, Federer hit 33 winners against just 10 unforced errors to open his quest for a record-tying seventh Wimbledon championship in imposing fashion. He wasted little time in racing out to 4-0 leads in both the first and third sets, and the third-seeded Swiss' willingness to attack the net in various ways—he showed off the serve-and-volley, chip-and-charge, as well as some delayed runs to the front court after stretching Ramos wide—kept the Spaniard hitting off his back foot for much of the match. Federer won 25 of 34 trips to net.

It was an ideal start for Federer, but it's tough to read too much into this result, given the fact that Ramos has spent more time playing pick-up soccer games staged on the large lawn at Indian Wells as he has playing grass-court tennis. The world No. 43 played and lost his first tour-level match on turf to Fabio Fognini in Eastbourne last week.

A committed clay-courter who reached the Casablanca final in April, the Barcelona-based Ramos was bidding to join Rafael Nadal and Hicham Arazi as the third lefty to beat Federer in a major. But when Federer followed a second-game break by slamming three straight aces to hold for 3-0, Ramos looked like someone who realized he would have scant say in the outcome.

"Maybe Albert is not the most experienced grass court player out there—that's for sure—but I was able to play a very clean match," Federer told the BBC afterward. "It's always nice to save energy, potentially, if you want to go further in the draw, and [it] gives you the confidence to close out matches easily. Things worked out perfectly today."

The Ramos forehand is slightly remiscent of Francisco Clavet's, but he needs time to manufacture a loopy backswing. Federer rushed Ramos with deep drives that diminished his reaction time, and drilled a forehand winner down the line for a two-set lead. When Federer held the 17th game with an ace, it was 6-1, 6-1, 3-0 after only 58 minutes of play.

At that point, you could almost sympathize if Ramos had resorted to the Greg Rusedski ploy of tugging up his socks after each point in an effort to extend the lopsided engagement past the one-hour mark. In the longest game of the match, Ramos saved five break points, but Federer converted his sixth when the heavy underdog dragged a forehand wide for a 4-0 third-set lead. The six-time champion closed in 79 minutes and will face Fognini next.

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