Newspaper article International New York Times

Federer Can Still Conjure Up That Old Magic

Newspaper article International New York Times

Federer Can Still Conjure Up That Old Magic

Article excerpt

In defeating Sam Querrey at Wimbledon, Roger Federer showed a bit of his magic with a lob hit between his legs that Querrey put into the net.

You never know when it will happen at this late stage in the game. Not at age 33 with a trick back and a little less foot speed and that nagging third-round loss to Andreas Seppi at this year's Australian Open still stuck in the collective memory bank.

But full-flight Roger Federer is always worth the wait, and there it undeniably was on Thursday in a very familiar setting: Centre Court at Wimbledon.

For about 25 minutes, Sam Querrey, a powerful and pleasant- mannered Californian, was Federer's opponent. But after the Swiss star broke him at 4-4 in the opening set, Querrey rapidly became Federer's canvas: a bold backhand brushstroke here, a dab of a half- volley winner there and, most avant-garde of all, a lob hit between the legs.

Small wonder that the canvas is also where Querrey ended up after losing 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round in just one hour and 26 minutes.

"Today was definitely a good day," Federer said.

Many a hardworking, hard-hitting tennis professional has been Federered through the years.

It is different than mere defeat in that it requires that rare higher place where the score is subsumed by the aesthetic experience.

"You want to go over and give him a high five sometimes but you can't do that," Querrey said, shaking his head amid the laughter.

Querrey had not played Federer since the 2008 French Open, where he lost 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

"Back then," Querrey said. "I was thinking just go out there and don't get embarrassed, make it competitive. Those were the years he was losing five times a year.

"Now, not that his level has dropped that much, he's still two in the world by quite a bit, but you feel have a little more of a chance."

On paper (or on screen) that is a reasonable conclusion. Federer does have his down days: see Seppi in Australia, see Nick Kyrgios in Madrid.

Nor is Thursday's brilliance any guarantee that he will be brilliant enough in the coming rounds to stave off a letdown or an upset or summon a way to break his historical tie with Pete Sampras and win his eighth Wimbledon singles title. …

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