The baseline was the starting line as Roger Federer repeatedly charged forward in his Wimbledon return. Looking fit and playing fast, Federer operated like a man going places in overwhelming Paolo Lorenzi, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, to roll into the second round.
The first meeting between the Grand Slam king and a major insolvent— Federer is playing for a record-extending 18th Grand Slam crown, while Lorenzi was searching for his first win in his 13th major match—was played almost exclusively on the Swiss' terms. As coach Stefan Edberg watched from behind a pair of black aviator shades, the Federer flight plan was clear.
The seven-time champion served with accuracy, attacked with authority, and introduced the 83rd-ranked Italian to areas of the court usually only visited by the groundskeeper. Federer served at 70 percent, did not drop serve, won 30 of 42 trips to net, and hit more than twice as many winners (40 to 12) against an overmatched opponent.
It wasn't an immaculate performance—Federer converted just six of 23 break points, was passed in his initial serve-and-volley forays, and failed to convert his first five match points stumbling slightly closing—but the fourth seed exuded eagerness and confidence, as well as a commitment to moving forward.
Federer rapped a running forehand down the line to notch his first break for 2-0. He scattered a few forehands in the ensuing game, but fended off a pair of break points and slid an ace down the middle to consolidate for 3-0. Stepping into the court and attacking with his forehand, Federer moved smoothly in an eight-point run, breaking again to extend the lead to 5-1 after only 21 minutes.
Serving to close out the set, Federer serve-and-volleyed repeatedly but was rebuffed each time, netting a couple of backhand volleys and watching three clean passes from Lorenzi contribute to four break points. Restoring order, Federer won 16 of the last 20 points to take the opener.
Wrapping a pair of love holds around a service break, Federer surged to a 3-1 lead 19 minutes into the second set. The fourth game was vintage Federer: An ace down the middle, an exquisite forehand drop volley winner, and a flashy backhand swing volley that drew a gasp from some members of the No. 1 Court crowd highlighted the free-flowing barrage Lorenzi faced. Federer scored his third straight break to build a two-set lead.
By the time Federer threw down a love hold for a 5-2 third-set lead, Lorenzi's backward baseball cap was slightly askew and mouth ajar, as if both were dislodged by his repeated dashes across the lawn. Still, the 32-year-old hung tough, fending off five match points to navigate a 10-minute game in holding for 3-5. Federer double-faulted to 30-all, but finished with a flourish, slashing his ninth ace down the middle to close in one hour and 33 minutes.
Rolling through round one, Federer's challenges—handling the high ball on his backhand return, continuing to assert his transition game against tougher opponents, and playing efficiently enough to allow his legs necessary recovery time—will become tougher as he advances. He will face either Julien Benneteau or Gilles Muller in round two, but spoke like a man intent on sticking around a lot longer. "[I'm] eager to play, motivated, inspired and also not just want to win the first round, clearly not underestimating anybody, but wanting to win the tournament again—that's why I'm here," Federer said afterward.
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