Roger Federer advances at Wimbledon after losing first 2 sets | Tennis
Roger Federer overcame a two-set deficit in the third round at Wimbledon to avoid his earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since 2004.
The Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England — Roger Federer overcame a two-set deficit Friday at Wimbledon to avoid his earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since 2004.
The six-time Wimbledon champion from Switzerland found himself two points from defeat on six occasions but survived a tense fourth-set tiebreaker and beat Julien Benneteau of France in the third round 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
"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 'til the very end."
Federer avoided the fate that befell nemesis Rafael Nadal of Spain 24 hours earlier on the same Centre Court. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, made his quickest exit from a major since 2005 when 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic beat him in five sets Thursday in the second round.
Benneteau had won his past four five-set matches, but this time he was the wearier player at the end, twice requiring thigh massages from a trainer for cramps during the fifth set.
Federer, seeded third, cracked a forehand return winner into the corner to break for a 3-1 lead and pulled away from there.
A hobbling Benneteau appeared in tears before the final point and he dumped his last shot into the net. Fans roared as a grinning Federer gave them a triumphant wave.
"He proved he is great. The greatest," said the 29th-seeded Benneteau. "Mentally, he's a rock.
"He's two sets down and he doesn't show anything."
Federer also erased a two-set deficit to beat Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in this month's quarterfinals at the French Open. He has mounted eight comebacks from down 0-2 in his career.
"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."
Federer is seeking to match Pete Sampras' modern record of seven Wimbledon championships. He has been stalled for 2 ½ years at a record 16 Grand Slam event titles.
Federer has reached at least the quarterfinals at a record 32 consecutive major tournaments.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia earlier mounted a more modest comeback to beat No. 28 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
In the women's bracket, No. 1 Maria Sharapova of Russia beat Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-1, 6-4.
No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defeated Heather Watson of Britain 6-0, 6-2.
Belgian Kim Clijsters led 6-3, 4-3 when No. 12 Vera Zvonareva of Russia stopped playing because of a respiratory infection. The unseeded Clijsters, who plans to retire after the U.S. Open, is a four-time major champion seeking her first berth in a Wimbledon final.