After the drama of day 4, and the mammoth performance by Rosol in defeating Nadal it was unlikely that Friday was going to reach such highs, but Wimbledon did not disappoint…
Novak Djokovic Def Radek Stepanek 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
The Serb got off to a slow start, but having gone a set down showed no sign of panic, broke Stepanek at the start of the second set and never looked back. Watching Djokovic live you get an even greater insight into the amazing flexibility and movement skills that he possesses. He strikes the ball with unbelievable power and control and it’s going to take an incredible performance to beat him at this years Championships. He will play fellow Serb Victor Troicki in the 4th round on Monday.
Stat of the match: Djokovic hit an impressive 56 winners to 14 unforced errors
Richard Gasquet Def Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Gasquet has struggled to match the high expectation created by his glittering junior career, and after his Semi-final showing at Wimbledon 2007 many believed we were looking at a future Wimledon champion (even Federer hinted so much). However since then he’s struggled to make any major impact at the Championships, but now seems to be back to some great grass court form. He plays the German Florian Mayer in the next round, the German hoping to rekindle past Wimbledon success himself (he made the Quarter Finals in 2004).
Stat of the match: Gasquet made 69% of first serves and won 82% of those points
Roger Federer Def Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-1
In the match of the day Frenchman Julien Benneteau pushed the Swiss master all the way and was 2 points from victory at 5 different times in the match. Benneteau took a well deserved 2 set lead and it seemed that the Championships was going to lose Nadal and Federer on consecutive days. After Federers level improved in the 3rd set, it seemed the 4th set was going to hold the key to the match and that’s exactly how it unfolded.
Federer came to the net more than the Frenchman in the 4th set but Benneteau came up with some crucial passing shots resulting in the Swiss only winning 7 of 13 points at the net. In contrast Benneteau won 7 of 8 net points and got incredibly close to taking the set and the match.
Turning point: At 6 points all in the 4th set tie-break Federer missed the first serve and then delivered his second serve down the T. Possibly due to physical conditioning Benneteau found the net with his backhand return. After a short Rally at 6-7 the Frenchman found the net with another backhand, handing the set to Federer. The final set saw Benneteau receiving treatment for cramp, and after an initial testing service game for Federer he never looked back, taking the decider 6-1.
Stat of the match: Federer only won 5 of 13 break point chances
Federer will now play Malisse in the 4th round on Monday after the Belgian came through a 5 set battle with Verdasco in blustery conditions on court number 3. Malisse is showing some great grass court form late in his career and will be hoping he can win another 2 matches to equal his semi-final Wimbledon appearance 10 years ago (in which he lost to Nalbandian after being 2 sets up).