Federer into 33rd straight major QF by fight against injury

Roger Federer booked a spot in his 33rd straight Grand Slam championship quarter-final on Monday at The Championships, when he defeated Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6(1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 for the 850th match win of his career (850-192 overall).

Federer improved to 10-1 lifetime against 31-year-old Malisse, who reached the 2002 semi-finals in a rain-interrupted encounter on Centre Court that lasted two hours and 11 minutes.

Federer appeared to be in serious back injury after taking a 4-3 lead in the first set against Malisse, having to leave Centre Court to take a medical time-out where pain-killers were dispensed.

After the resumption, he stepped gingerly around the court but having cruised through the first set on a tie-break, the only obstacle he was then facing was the weather.

"My back is OK, it started to feel better as the match went on," said Federer.

"It come and goes. When you play on tour for over 15 years the back does hurt at times, you just hope it doesn't come in a big match. It was scary and I'm in a lot of pain but the treatment was a big help."

Malisse served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken to 15, before Federer established his dominance in the tie-break. The pair then returned to the locker room for 40 minutes due to a light drizzle. Federer lost just 14 points in the 24-minute second set, before Malisse regained his composure to convert one of four break point opportunities to clinch the third set. Federer hit 13 of his total 45 winners in the fourth set. He won 34 of his 39 points at the net.

"I'm very pleased that I came through, the rain delay helped me," added Federer. "I had to apologise to Xavier, it's a freak thing that happened.

"I've been doing exercises for years. I have a pretty good record with being injury free, so if this is the worst then I'm happy. I should be back fine on Wednesday."

Federer will meet 26th seed Mikhail Youzhny in the last eight on Wednesday.

Date: 02.07.2012, Source: ATP and BBC


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