LONDON – Roger Federer and Andy Murray advanced to the round of 16 on Saturday despite a few bumps during their matches. Both will be in action next Monday.
Federer is known for his serve, but his opponent, Sam Groth, serves with immense power. One serve during the match clocked in at 147 mph, one of the fastest in Wimbledon’s history. But power is not everything. Federer answered back with his smooth serves and quick plays to break Groth when needed.
However, Groth tied him up in the third set since Federer could not break him. To make it worse, he double faulted at the worst possible time to give Groth a set point. Then Federer misses an easy forehand shot to give Groth the set.
It took the steam out Groth as Federer took complete control of the fourth set. Groth only managed one ace while Federer took six. He also scored 93% of his first serve points. It was almost as if he was playing against a different player. But Federer said he only needs to change one thing when playing people like Groth:
Well, the only thing I really have to change is my returning. The rest, you know, the service games, I can control them myself. Once the return is played, then it’s about reaction, especially when he’s serve‑volleying. You get to the next one, hit a pass.
Really, I think it’s about keeping a short backswing on the return, trying to see it. And then also sometimes guessing the right way at the right times, remembering patterns where he’s gone to, where he’s been successful, and where not.
The same for me, what to do on second serves, what to do on first serves. It’s a constant reminder what has been going on the last five minutes and what has been going on the last two hours.
I think that’s the biggest effort for me anyway when I play a big server, understanding those patterns.
Again, I must note the sportsmanship on Centre Court. Whenever Groth messed up a serve he always apologized to Federer. He also always thanked the ball kids when they handed him balls or a towel. A true gentleman. Then Federer, like all the other winners, waited to walk off the court with Groth.
Murray faced a similar situation against Italian Andreas Seppi. Murray won the first two sets, but stumbled in the third. Up 2-1, Seppi called for a trainer to work on his leg. Something worked because Seppi maintained his balance and killed Murray 6-1 in the set.
“I felt like in the beginning of the third set was, I don’t know, the ankle a little bit was hurting,” said Seppi. “And I felt like all the muscle was pretty tight getting up to the knee. So I put some hot cream, and I felt, yeah, felt much better after.”
He took the first game of the third set when Murray decided to call for the trainer to massage his shoulder.
“It’s stiffness,” he explained. “And, yeah, every time I finish a practice or anything, I have my back manipulated. Just now, Clay, the physio came on the court and said it was like a machine gun going off when he laid on top of me. Literally my back cracked a lot. And, yeah, that’s been the case for the last few days.”
No one knows what these trainers did, but they magically transformed the players. Murray came back and slammed through the next six games to take the set 6-1 and win the match. The trainers are very special:
Q. Physio are genius?
ANDREAS SEPPI: Looks like, yeah. If he touch you, you can’t lose anymore.
ANDREAS SEPPI: Yeah.