Federer fighback sees of Julien Benneteau

Six-time champion Roger Federer had to come from two sets down against Julien Benneteau before booking his place in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

The Swiss had to dig deep in a keenly-fought contest before edging past the Frenchman 4-6 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-1.

Just 24 hours after Rafael Nadal had so sensationally been sent crashing by Lukas Rosol, the Centre Court crowd were treated to another nail-biter with the world number three seemingly on his way out as well.

But, on a court he has made his own, Federer gradually turned the screw and after edging a fourth set tie-break 8-6 he cruised through the decider with Benneteau hampered by a knee injury.

With the roof in place once again it had looked as though five sets would not be needed when Benneteau pulled ahead, taking the opener when he broke in the ninth – Federer netting a backhand.

The Swiss responded by taking his opponent’s serve at the start of the second but uncharacteristically failed to cement the break, losing his own serve in the very next game.

Displaying a brilliant range of winners on both sides, Benneteau was creating the better chances and he had break opportunities in both the seventh and ninth games, Federer getting himself out of trouble with his serve.

The Frenchman was the next to rely on his serve to swerve danger, seeing off three set points in the 12th game and, no doubt buoyed by his escape, rushed to a tie-break win, never looking back after Federer’s long forehand offered up a mini break on the first point.

Out of keeping with the match at that point, the third set was a brisk affair, Federer breaking twice early on to take it, but the fourth returned to form, with both men holding through to a tie-break.

Benneteau did have to save three break points in the fifth game but was untroubled apart from that and, at 30-15 on Federer’s serve in 12th, had half an opening. Victory, in theory, was two points away.

He could not seize the chance however, and after saving one set point in the breaker he netted on the next and the match was levelled.

That was the green light Federer needed to reach the finish line first, breaking to love in the fourth game of the decider with a forehand around the net and again in the next Benneteau service game to see it out.

“I think I brought some experience,” Federer said of why he was able to recover so well.

“Having been 2-0 down before, especially here at Wimbledon and knowing how to handle the situation, when I broke at the start of the third set I knew the match was open.

“I knew I could not afford any more mistakes and I knew physically it would not be a problem.

“I started to play better and better as the match went on and I think that’s what I said to myself as I sat down at two-love down. I had experience on my side.

“I had to hope that he would miss a few but you don’t rely on that, you rely on your own strength.

“I missed a lot of opportunities but I also made some big plays when I had to and I tried to stay calm in the eye of the storm.”