LONDON – Eight-times champion Roger Federer survived a massive scare against Adrian Mannarino before advancing to the Wimbledon second round on Tuesday when the Frenchman retired with a knee injury after slipping on court.
The match was poised at 6-4 6-7(3) 3-6 6-2 with Federer forcing a fifth set before Mannarino, celebrating his 33rd birthday, decided he could not continue.
“It’s awful,” Federer said in his on-court interview. “It shows that one shot can change the outcome of a match, a season, a career. I wish him all the best and I hope he recovers quickly so we see him back on the courts.
“He could have won the match at the end. Obviously, he was the better player, so I definitely got a bit lucky.”
Federer, seeded sixth, was serving with a 4-2 lead in the fourth set when the 41st-ranked Mannarino slipped while attempting a return and twisted his right knee.
The Frenchman received medical attention on Centre Court and limped back to complete the set before shaking hands with Federer, who now has a 7-0 head-to-head record against him.
“You don’t get many walkovers throughout a career and you try also not to have it happen to yourself,” Federer added. “It’s a reminder how quickly it goes. But of course, I’m obviously happy I can get another chance for another match here.
“I worked very hard and at the end I enjoyed myself out here today. It was great fun until the end, obviously.”
The 20-times Grand Slam winner came into Tuesday’s match having lost just one set in his six previous meetings against the left-hander, including three on the manicured grass at Wimbledon.
Federer started off on the wrong foot, trailing 0-40 in the opening game but managed to hold serve and soon found his groove and his nimble footwork to put Mannarino under constant pressure.