Roger Federer rethought Sampras after his success against Gasquet

Roger Federer rethought Sampras after his success against Gasquet
Roger Federer rethought Sampras after his success against Gasquet

Roger Federer will soon be 40, so half of his life has passed since his phenomenal feat against Pete Sampras, seven-time Wimbledon winner, on July 2, 2001, in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. A match considered to be one of the most important in the history of the tournament, and even in the history of tennis as the symbolism was strong between the young padawan that Federer was at the time, and his childhood idol whose he had just precipitated the London reign into its twilight.

After his success against Richard Gasquet in the second round on Thursday, the Swiss were inevitably questioned about this memory which is still very much alive in his mind. And in particular on what he would like to “steal” from the young player he was at the time: “I would like to have my mind free again from all these statistics, these many things that we know today about the players and which can prevent you from playing feeling, replied the former world No. 1. For example, on match point, I don’t know why, I felt against all logic that Pete was going to give me the forehand … “

On July 2, 2001, Roger Federer, 19, defeated Pete Sampras in the round of 16 at Wimbledon.

Credit: Getty Images

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Sure enough, Pete served the forehand. Federer had anticipated it and passed it along the line, before kneeling on the grass of this Center Court where he had just signed his first resounding feat. It is this form of recklessness after which Roger runs again today, in his comeback inevitably filled with uncertainties, at his old age and after his double knee operation.

Between Mannarino and Gasquet, a tactical change

But if Federer had asked himself a lot of existential questions since his early elimination in Halle against Felix Auger-Aliassime, this success against Richard Gasquet gave him a lot of answers. Very hesitant for his entry into the running against Adrian Mannarino, against whom he was led two sets to one and could have gone by the wayside if the French had not been injured during the 4th set, the Swiss was on the other hand (legitimately ) satisfied with this victory against Gasquet.

“It was a good match, clearly my best since my comeback this year with the one against Evans in Doha and against Cilic at Roland Garros., commented the eight-time winner of the London tournament. I felt good physically, I was much more relaxed than against Mannarino, and from the tie break of the 1st set until the end, I had really good times. It’s a game that gives me a lot of confidence for the future. “

What was eye-catching, too, in the performance of the Swiss against Gasquet, is that he was much more offensive than when he entered the contest against Mannarino where, apart from a clear increase in aggressiveness in the 4th set, we often saw him get bogged down in exchanges in false rhythm which did not really correspond to him. And who decided in any case, to come back to that, to the pure server-volleyball player that he was in 2001.

“At the time, the game forward, it paid off, still remembers the man with 20 Grand Slam titles. And then the advantage, when you’re young, is that other people don’t really know what you’re going to do. So I said to myself: “try, we’ll see what happens. Anyway, I’m not going to die from the baseline, I prefer to die at the net”. Today, we say to ourselves: “stay deep and play solid.” The times have changed.”

So, against Gasquet, Federer forced himself to try a lot, again. It was tactical, too. Federer had noticed that all his last matches against the Biterrois (who has not beaten him for ten years), it is by aggressing him to the maximum that he won them. “Compared to my 1st round against Mannarino where the idea was to use the slice more, this time I decided to play as much as possible forward, even if it means making a lot of mistakes, because I told myself that ‘at some point it was going to pass“, further analyzed the Swiss maestro, who said he was more” titillated “by this exceptional setback of his opponent:

Grass wear, an element conducive to attack

Another interesting element underlined by Federer: the evolution of the condition of the courts between his 1st and his 2nd round, the wear of the grass making it less slippery and more conducive to forward play. “Against Richard, I once again slipped in an area where it was a little green, which is why I was still a little hesitant to do a serve-volley. But I still felt a big difference by compared to my first lap. Here, the more the days go by, the easier it is to play forward. “

He will need it in his third round, Saturday, against a player in great shape: the Briton Cameron Norrie, against whom he will probably not have, in addition, the total support of the public, as he has. habit. In the meantime, Roger Federer will have a priority in the development of his program this Friday: to be back in time to be able to follow the quarter-final of the Euro between Switzerland and Spain, at 6 p.m. A good way, that too, to change his mind. And perhaps, twenty years later, to experience a new immense sporting happiness …

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