Roger Federer rallies past Benneteau at Wimbledon

The six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer overcame a two-set deficit to edge Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1 in the third round.

The comeback marked the second time Federer has rallied from a two-sets-to-love decifit this season, after clawing back against Juan Martin del Potro in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. He has pulled off the feat eight times in his career and is now within one victory of reaching 850 wins.

The Swiss remains in contention to claim the World No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking, needing to win the title to overtake current No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Federer is bidding to tie Pete Sampras’ record of seven trophies at The Championships and kept his Grand Slam streak of 32 straight quarter-final appearances alive.

''It was a tough match,'' Federer said. ''Oh my God, it was brutal. Obviously, a bit of luck, maybe, on my side. Who knows? But I tried hard. I fought till the very end.''

Benneteau was within two points of victory on three occasions in the fourth set, first at 6-5, 40/40, and then at 5-5 and 6-6 in the tie-break. He went for his shots on each point, but was outdueled by Federer.

Federer was patient in his opportunity to take a lead in the match for the first time since losing a break advantage in the opening set. He converted his fourth break to move ahead 3-1 in the final set, reeling off the final five games of the match to complete the comeback in three hours and 34 minutes.

A hobbling Benneteau appeared in tears before the final point, and he dumped his last shot in the net. Fans roared as a grinning Federer gave them a triumphant wave.

''The thing, when you're down two sets to love, is to stay calm, even though it's hard, because people are freaking out, people are worried for you,'' Federer said. ''You don't have, obviously, many lives left out there. You just try to play tough and focus point for point. Sounds so boring, but it's the right thing to do out there.''

''He played so well,'' Federer said. ''He was making me doubt, obviously, for most of the match. That's a credit to him. He played amazing, I thought.''

''He proved he is great. The greatest,'' Benneteau said. ''Mentally he's a rock. He's two sets down, and he doesn't show anything.''

Federer will play 2002 semi-finalist Xavier Malisse in the fourth round. The 31-year-old Belgian won back-to-back matches over Top 20 opposition for the first time in 12 months after he defeated No. 17 seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. It was his 20th match victory at the All England Club and he improved to a 16-15 season record.

Date: 29.06.2012, Source: AP and ATP


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