Wimbledon: Roger Federer makes stunning start to title defence

Swiss star crushes Dusan Lajovic in double-quick time on Centre Court

Roger Federer  serves to Dusan Lajovic  during their  first-round match at  Wimbledon. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roger Federer serves to Dusan Lajovic during their first-round match at Wimbledon. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

Shortly after Roger Federer had swatted poor Dusan Lajovic aside in three blindingly quick sets on Centre Court on day one of the championships Borna Coric, who shocked the Swiss in the Halle final two weekends ago, was packing his bags after losing in two hours against the Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Tennis has a way of swinging players around like a bird in a storm. After his almost perfunctory stroll on Monday, as he set about chasing a record ninth title, Federer held court for 12 minutes (only eight minutes short of his first set against Lajovic), while Coric was being ushered off to “Interview room two”, a sort of Orwellian purgatory for losers.

The day belonged to the king, whose reign looks unassailable. He walked on at 1pm to a standing ovation and left after 79 minutes of brilliance, a 6-1 6-3 6-4 winner against the hapless Lajovic, who lasted an hour-and-a-half against him in the second round last year. In that whirlwind event Federer went on to thrash a foot-blistered Marin Cilic in an hour and 41 minutes in a forgettable final.

He has taken up where he left off and, if the nervous Wimbledon folk are still worried about their championship match clashing with football’s World Cup final on Sunday week, they will be hoping that Federer is in it and hungry for a quick kill.

He has that contentment about him that sends out a message loaded with quiet menace. The field is in some disarray: Andy Murray is a late casualty, Novak Djokovic an unknown quantity still and Rafael Nadal, on the other side of the draw, a long way removed on grass from the young tiger who beat Federer here 10 years ago in the greatest final of the modern era. The title is literally Federer’s to lose. Coric might have harboured ambitions of moving in, but Wimbledon is a different animal to Halle.

Federer celebrates his 37th birthday in August and if he needed any incentive to stretch his career even further into its sunset days, apart from his love of the game, four young faces beamed down from his box in the stand to remind him, alongside his wife, Mirka, with his parents installed in the royal box for the opening day.

“They know I play a lot of tennis, but I’m not sure if they know what my ranking would be,” he said of his four-year-old twin boys, Leo and Lenny. “They wouldn’t know what I’m trying to do, really. They know that there is a trophy involved at some point if I do play well. It would be helpful [to play] a few more years for the boys to really remember. The girls [Myla and Charlene, who turn eight this month], they will always remember at this point. I’m not sure about the boys.”

So, another fine family day out at Wimbledon for the Federers. Mirka even took the snaps. They are a perfect apple-pie marriage of happiness and sporting perfection.

Federer hardly made a mistake against Lajovic – mainly because the Serb had not a clue how to counter the razor-sharp, late-changing forehands and nagging serve. Everything on his side of the net was done on edge. Across from him, Federer was a familiar picture of serenity.

Everything worked off his serve. He won 41 points of 45 on first serve, 11 of 18 on second, striking eight aces with just one double fault, and hit 35 clean winners in all. Lajovic did not get a single free point from any of his 59 serves, nor a single break point.

Later, Federer spared a thought for Murray, who decided on Sunday he was not up to testing his body in five-setters over the championship distance.

“I’m not going to tell him what to play and what not to play,” he said. “Most important is, if he does return, he’s fully fit, because then anything is possible, especially for a former top guy. You don’t forget how to play tennis. It’s like riding a bike, brushing your teeth. It’s not like you’re going to all of a sudden rock up and forget about it all.

“The body needs to be there. It seems right now it’s not the case. But you wonder: why did he then play Queen’s and Eastbourne? Only he and his team know.

“I’ve realised that if you do come back too soon, it’s always a problem. I feel like it lingers more. I’m hopeful he’s going to feel better and better as time goes by. If that means he comes back in a month, that’s great. If he comes back in a year, well, so be it. I’m hopeful to see a fully fit Andy Murray again. That’s what I care about really, as a fellow rival, friend, a guy who has been there before. That’s what I’m hopeful for.”

- Guardian service

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