The Fed-Ex factor
Roger Federer set pulses racing as he diced with danger for more than three hours before dousing the fireworks of French buccaneer Julien Benneteau with a pulsating 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-1 third-round win on Friday. Saturday's results | Star watchsports Updated: Jul 01, 2012 01:25 IST
Roger Federer set pulses racing as he diced with danger for more than three hours before dousing the fireworks of French buccaneer Julien Benneteau with a pulsating 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-1 third-round win on Friday.
Just 24 hours after Rafael Nadal's unlikely demise, Benneteau sent shockwaves of equal magnitude around the All England Club as he destroyed Federer during the first two sets with ferocious forehands, belting backhands and audacious reflex shots.
When the Frenchman stood two points from victory in the 12th game of the fourth set, and again in the tiebreak, it seemed as if Federer's incredible streak of reaching 32 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals or better would end on the Swiss's much-loved Centre Court arena.But fraying nerves is not the sign of a champion who has won a record 16 grand slam titles, including six Wimbledon crowns, and he did not flinch once as he withstood Benneteau's onslaught to steer the match into a fifth set.
Once there, the zing suddenly went out of Benneteau's previously supercharged legs.
He appeared like a man waking through treacle as he limped between points and even called on the trainer to massage his exhausted limbs back to life but it was to little avail as Federer raced through the final set.
When the Swiss third seed brought up three match points and was waiting to deliver his final serve, a distraught Benneteau could not even face reality as he covered his eyes with his hand and turned his back to the net.But he could not delay the inevitable forever and the man who had come so close to pulling off one of the biggest ever shocks surrendered his Wimbledon hopes by paddling a tired shot into the net.