Roger Federer survived a massive scare against Adrian Mannarino in the first round of Wimbledon 2021 on Tuesday. The Frenchman, playing on his 33rd birthday, was forced to retire due to injury early in the fifth set with the scoreboard reading 6-4, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-2, 0-0 (15-0) in favor of Federer.
Federer, an eight-time champion at SW19, began strongly and took the opening set. But the Swiss lost his way as the match progressed and found himself trailing by two sets to one.
But Mannarino appeared to twist his knee deep into the fourth set after being wrong-footed by Federer. The southpaw landed badly and was in a great deal of pain.
Federer, who had already built a lead in the fourth set, closed it out without much fuss to force a decider. A medical time-out did little to ease Mannarino’s suffering and he retired after one point was played in the fifth set.
On that note, here are three talking points from Federer’s narrow escape:
#1 Roger Federer has to improve his first-serve percentage
Federer’s serve has always been his biggest weapon, especially on grass. However, against Mannarino, he simply did not land it often enough to do damage.
Federer landed only 46% of his first serves in the opening set and 56% in the next, highlighting his struggles. Such poor numbers might not cost Federer in the first week, but when he comes up against better returners, he could pay the price.
#2 Federer struggled to dictate play with his forehand
Federer’s forehand is regarded as one of the most destructive shots in tennis. But the sixth seed struggled to bring it into play against Mannarino, striking just two forehand groundstroke winners in the first two sets.
His forehand, normally a very reliable shot, also went missing in the crunch moments. During the second-set tiebreaker, the Swiss committed a staggering four unforced errors off that wing to hand the set to the Frenchman.
#3 Federer should look to come to the net more often
Every time Roger Federer found himself under pressure, he switched things up by charging to the net. That tactic reaped rich rewards as Adrian Mannarino struggled to find an answer to the Swiss’ approach shots.
Federer was also extremely sharp at the net, timing his volleys to perfection. In all, the 39-year-old went to the net 35 times and won the point on 29 occasions.