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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, July 8, 2017

Roger Federer

Roger Federer grounded Mischa Zverev in straight sets soaring into his 15th Wimbledon round of 16 and a date with Grigor Dimitrov.

Photo credit: Ashley Western/CameraSport

The grass is always greener in the Wimbledon frontcourt.

The brown-out patch behind the baseline is a visible reminder of lawn tennis’ transition to a baseline game.

More: Djokovic Defuses Gulbis

Nobody plays transition tennis with the creative verve of Roger Federer.

Asserting his all-court attack, Federer dismissed Mischa Zverev, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4, flying into the Wimbledon round of 16 for the 15th time.

Continuing his quest for an eighth Wimbledon crown, Federer flashed 61 winners, including 13 aces, against just seven errors in a sharp one hour, 49 minute victory.

About the only question from Federer’s flight into the second week was the nasally tone of his voice afterward suggesting he could be battling a cold.

"How many times I have to sneeze, you don't want to know that stuff," Federer said. "I'm feeling better. I'm definitely feeling better. Today I feel 50 percent better than I did two days ago. I'm happy things are progressing well, and I hope that on Monday I'm back to 100 percent."

This match was a rematch of the Australian Open quarterfinals, which Federer swept in three sets. Zverev's attacking game presented opportunities for Federer's all-court acumen.

“I thought it was a good match, a fun match to play against a serve-and-volley player,” Federer said. “You always sees some lobs and drop shots and passing shots. Mischa’s a great guy and I think we fed off each other and played a good match. I’m very happy on my end.”

The 18-time Grand Slam champion whipped the wide serve effectively on the ad side exploiting Zverev’s deep return positioning and ensuring he could take the first strike with his forehand. Federer won 83 percent of his first-serve points, 73 percent of his second-serve points and faced only two break points in the match.

"I think accuracy is almost as important as pace once you get over 120 (mph)," Federer said of serving. "I think especially also what comes with a good serve is concentration, focus. I think today I had really good focus on my serve, on the first shot. It was also avoidable not to be broken in the first set, but then I had to hang on to it with being down one breakpoint or two breakpoints maybe at 5-All in the first set. That was definitely a key moment.

"But I thought I had great focus. The serve is clearly important. I mean, good servers do usually quite well here on the grass."

The 35-year-old Swiss has been a model of efficiency breezing through four matches—including a set-and-a-half against Alexandr Dolgopolov, who retired with a foot injury—in just four hours, two minutes. That’s the quickest path to the fourth round of any of the Big Four.

“I think it’s important to get through the first week with a good feeling,” Federer said. “Obviously we go one round at a time. I must say today was the first goal to make the second week. I made that today. Hopefully, I’ll come back strong on Monday.”

Standing between Federer and his 14th Wimbledon quarterfinal in the last 15 years is buddy and bandmate Grigor Dimitrov.

The 13th-seeded Bulgarian built a 6-1, 6-1 lead over Dudi Sela when the 32-year-old Israeli, drained from winning successive five-set fights over Marcel Granollers and John Isner, pulled the plug.

Federer holds a 5-0 record over Dimitrov, including a four-set win at the 2016 Australian Open. Monday’s meeting will be their first grass-court clash.

“Every time I play against him he’s stronger than the time before I played him,” Federer said. “He’s at the perfect age right now. He understands his game best. He’s physically strong, mentally he’s taken the next step. We could have almost played in the Australian Open final against each other. I’m ready for a tough one. Should be another exciting match because he’s a great shotmaker.”

Four games into the match, Federer showed his racquet wizardry.

When an attempted body serve didn’t hug the hip tightly enough, Federer bolted a backhand return down the line for double break point. A fine flicked forehand return settled into the corner. Two clean return winners gave Federer the break and a 3-1 lead.

One of the best front-runners Wimbledon has ever seen, streaked through a love hold placing a high backhand volley into the open court for 4-1.

Tight at the outset, Zverev warmed up, loosened up and began taking it to Federer.

The Australian Open champion was up 4-2, 30-love when Zverev responded winning eight of the next points to level.

Federer fended off a break point sliding a serve down the middle working through a hold for 6-5. Zverev curled an ace out wide to force the tie break.

A mishit diagonal forehand return gave Federer the mini break on the first point. Dragging his opponent off the court with the slider serve wide, Federer swooped in for a forehand winner, for 4-1. Zverev is at his best moving forward, but Federer gave him little opportunity for advancement knifing a high backhand volley for 6-3.

Battering a backhand into Zverev’s body, Federer closed a set that was more complicated than it initially appeared.

The Swiss was superb in the frontcourt winning 11 of 12 trips to net. Federer whipped 22 winners in the set more than tripling Zverev in that category.

Improvising an ingenious backhand drive volley from a few steps inside the baseline, Federer gained break point in the third game of the second set. Zverev denied it, but Federer amped up the brilliance quotient pasting a forehand return off the sideline then going right at Zverev on his first pass setting up a crackling forehand drive volley to break for 2-1.

Dictating on serve, Federer won 20 of 24 points played on his serve in the second set, rolling a forehand crosscourt for a two-set lead after 78 minutes of play.

The relentless attack of his opponent took a toll on Zverev who dumped a double fault into net gifting the break and a 2-1 third-set lead to the seven-time champion.

Federer zapped his 13 ace to end a slick win in style raising his 2017 record to 27-2 as the Big 4 move forward.

"I think it's great. I'm not that surprised because I thought that everybody this week was going to find their form, especially speaking about Andy and Novak," Federer said. "So I thought they did it very well. With me, I hoped I was going to be there. Whereas with Rafa's confidence, I thought he was also going to be there.

"So I'm not that surprised, but it's great. It's obviously hard to make all second week for us, you know, when I'm not playing. So sometimes it's in your favor these statistics."


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