Wimbledon: Federer d. Robredo
Roger Federer buzzed a serve that dabbed the corner of the box like a streak of yellow paint on a green canvas. Powered by a precise serve and all-court artistry, Federer painted Tommy Robredo right out of the picture, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the 12th time.
It was near-pristine performance from Federer, who was vulnerable the last time he faced Robredo, but looked invincible on serve today. Federer hit 11 aces, did not drop a point on serve in the second set, and denied the only break point he faced in the final game. The fourth-seeded Swiss is the only man yet to surrender serve in the tournament, has permitted just 32 games through the first four rounds, and looks revitalized on the lawn.
World Cup fever may well have empowered Federer, who said afterward he was eager to watch Switzerland's match with Argentina and set about making quick work of the 22nd-ranked Spaniard. Attacking the net with the urgency of a striker stalking the goal, Federer won 71 percent of his net approaches (29 of 41) and exploited Robredo's tendency to chip his backhand return with the serve-and-volley on his second serve.
This is a comfortable match-up for Federer because he does everything better than Robredo and is more explosive off every shot. But resilience is a Robredo asset. Winless in 10 prior career matches with the Swiss, Robredo fought off 14 of 16 break points to topple an erratic Federer at the U.S. Open last September and storm into the quarterfinals for the first time. At the 2013 French Open, Robredo became the second man in history to come back from two sets down to win in three consecutive Grand Slam matches, joining Henri Cochet, who did it at the 1927 Wimbledon.
But grass is Robredo's worst surface, and he was up against the best grass-court player of his generation. Playing at a brisk pace, Federer never let the marathon man in the running. Federer wrapped love holds around a break in Robredo's opening service game for 3-0. Coaxing successive errors from the Robredo's stronger forehand wing, Federer broke again for 5-1 and closed a clean 21-minute opening set with a backhand winner.
The serve was the key stroke in the second set as Federer found his rhythm, issuing five love service holds. Winning eight straight points to open the set, Federer was in full flow at the close. The seven-time champion glided forward with a beautiful serve-and-volley combination to seize a two-set lead after 54 minutes.
Attacking behind an inside-out forehand, Federer broke for a 4-3 advantage in the third set. The only slight stress test in a clinical match came when Federer faced break point serving for the quarterfinals. Pressing forward, he blocked a forehand volley to erase the threat, and sealed his spot in the last eight with a slick serve-and-volley winner.
A clean victory continues a trend of efficient wins for Federer, who has not been pushed beyond the two-hour mark and will face Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss quarterfinal—after they spend some time watching Switzerland's World Cup game.
"I feel like a soccer player—96 minutes sounds just about right," Federer told the BBC afterward. "Clearly I'm pleased with the first week. It's always really exciting being close to the finish line rather than at the very beginning. I think I'm serving well, moving well and returning all right. All the things are happening that I need to be happening to go deep in this tournament again."
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