Adrian Mannarino’s dream birthday turned into a nightmare as he slipped and injured his knee in the fourth set against Roger Federer in the first round of Wimbledon.
The Frenchman, celebrating his 33rd birthday on Tuesday, looked well on his way to cause the biggest upset of his career as he led Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
An eight-time champion at Wimbledon, the Swiss launched a comeback in the fourth set, storming to a 4-1 lead. But with Federer serving in the seventh game, at 4-2, Mannarino slipped awkwardly on the slick grass and hurt his knee.
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The Frenchman could barely stand as Federer took the fourth set 6-2. At 15-0 on the 39-year-old’s serve in the fifth set, a crestfallen Mannarino called it quits.
During the on-court interview, when reminded that he had lived to fight another day, Federer said, “Not like this, please!
“You don’t get many walkovers throughout a career and you try also not to have it happen to yourself,” he 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.
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Federer, who is still finding his feet after coming back from two knee surgeries, admitted that he had to “adjust his game” more than the left-handed Mannarino did and that his rival’s “shovel backhand” did some very real damage during the rallies.
After losing the third set, the 20-time major champion asserted his authority on the match by coming into the court with purpose.
“I tried to cut down the length of points a little bit,” said Federer.
“It worked well, and once I got the break, obviously, I was able to maybe loosen up a little bit up and then everything ended.
“At the end, it was a very up and down match overall I thought. We were both… trying to figure out who could enjoy the baseline a little bit more than the other. But I felt like I had to adjust my game more than he had to, and that was credit to him of course.”