Roger Federer did not deliver a flamboyant performance in his debut match at Wimbledon, taking advantage of Adrian Mannarino's retirement with injury early in the fifth set. The former world number 1 honestly seemed very far from acceptable form, as the false step in Halle a few weeks ago had hinted at.
The Swiss champion, who spared himself the shame of leaving the scene in the first round of a Grand Slam (the last time it happened in the distant 2003), will now face Richard Gasquet for a place in the third round. The two faced each other 20 times in the major circuit, with an 18-2 balance in favor of the 39-year-old from Basel.
The French veteran, who got rid of Yuichi Sugita in four sets, will certainly not start beaten on Thursday, being aware of the current difficulties of the 20-time Grand Slam champion. In a press conference following his debut success, the two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist expressed bellicose words on the eve of the match against King Roger.
Gasquet opens up on Roger Federer
"Certainly he (Roger Federer) is worse (than before), there is no doubt but me too," Richard Gasquet said during his press conference. "I'm like him, even though he's older than me, we're at the end of our careers.
I think there are things to do and I'm going very, very motivated to try to win this game. When we go on the court, it's to win." According to Gasquet, the fact that Mannarino gave a stern test to Roger Federer indicates the Swiss is not as good as he once was.
"He is not as good as before but I am also weaker than before," he added. "Adrian has bothered him so it's because he is worse off than before after he will certainly play better on the second round. I will try to make a great game."
The 35-year-old could not contain his excitement at facing the 20-time Grand Slam champion on Centre Court. "I want to enjoy playing Federer again, I played Nadal at Roland Garros, I can play Federer here, it's fabulous for me because I had complicated times so I'm happy to be able to play him again on certainly the greatest court in the world," Gasquet said.
Speaking to the media after his scratchy performance against Mannarino, Federer, the sixth seed, said he would be "more relaxed" in his second-round clash against Gasquet. "The first test passed even if it was done in a weird way.
In the second round, I would probably be more relaxed and I am happy to play against Richard. We will see what happens," explained Federer.