Roger Federer knows, naturally, that this Wimbledon marks his last Grand Slam tournament before turning 40. He knows, too, that he hadn’t played a third-round match at a major in nearly 1 1/2 years. And, truthfully, he knows he can’t possibly know how many more he has left.
Maybe that combination of factors led to the un-Federer-like reaction — arms raised in a “V,” followed by a big shout and a vigorous fist pump — when his 123 mph serve was returned into the net to end his 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Saturday.
There also was this: Federer, who had two operations on his right knee in 2020 and had played only eight matches this season until this week, considered the 29th-seeded Norrie somewhat of a measuring stick — he used the phrase “reference point” — for where his game stands.
“I thought I was extremely calm throughout the match. Maybe that’s why I saved all the emotions for the very end of the match,” said Fededer, whose birthday is Aug. 8, making him the oldest man to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon since Ken Rosewall was 40 in 1975.
“If I can beat somebody of his level, who’s played well last week, who is playing at home, who’s played a ton of matches. … I know who I beat, you know what I mean?” he explained. “It’s not just like a guy that can play good on the day. He’s a good player.”
There was decidedly no home-court advantage for Norrie; there were more “Come on, Roger!” cries from spectators, old and young, than there were pleas of “Come on, Cam!”
And Federer, who has won a men’s-record eight of his 20 Grand Slam trophies at the All England Club, delivered.
He had 48 winners to 33 unforced errors and won the point on 30 of 38 trips to the net, including 11 of 11 when playing serve-and-volley.
Next will come Federer’s 69th appearance in the fourth round at a major tournament. On Monday, he plays No. 23 seed Lorenzo Sonego, a 26-year-old from Italy who has made it this far for the second time at a Slam.
“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my rhythm now, at this point,” Federer said.
Moments later, he said this about Saturday’s performance: “Maybe one of the first times I just felt very much at peace out there. Really sort of a tranquility, I guess, to everything I was doing — where I wanted to serve, how I wanted to win my service.”