LONDON (AFP) – Roger Federer began his campaign for a record eighth Wimbledon title with ease on Tuesday (July 4) when opponent Alexandr Dolgopolov quit with an injury in the second set.
Third seed Federer was 6-3, 3-0 ahead when the Ukrainian retired from the first round match on Centre Court with an ankle injury after just 43 minutes.
“It feels great to be back on Centre Court,” said Federer who recorded his 85th match win at the All England Club, passing the mark he shared with Jimmy Connors.
Federer, who hit his 10,000th career ace in the eighth game of the first set, will face either Dusan Lajovic of Serbia or Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the last 32.
Dolgopolov had called the trainer at the end of the first set, complaining of an ankle injury.
Ironically, three-time champion Novak Djokovic had earlier also benefitted from an early retirement when Slovakia’s Martin Klizan quit at 6-3, 2-0 down after 40 minutes.
“Clearly I was hoping that Alexandr was feeling better today but he’s had a rough one this year. He’s had to pull out of a lot of matches,” Federer said.
“He tried. For me obviously I’m very happy to be back and getting another win here is great news.”
The 35-year-old Federer, seeking a 19th Grand Slam title and bidding to become the oldest champion at the All England Club, played down the tag of favourite for a trophy he last lifted in 2012.
“Just because I haven’t played the clay court season doesn’t make me the favourite,” he said.
“You would think that somebody who has played well, like Rafa (Nadal) on the clay courts, he would be feeling really good about his chances here and I’m sure he does feel that way.
“The same for (defending champion) Andy Murray, same for Djokovic.
“Everybody’s got a chance to win Wimbledon and for me it’s no different. I already achieved my dream to be back here healthy. Now we’ll see how far I can go.”
But Federer did admit that winning an eighth title at Wimbledon and going past the mark he shares with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw would be a special moment.
“It would be beautiful. I would love it. I’m not the youngest any more yet I’m still putting myself out there with a chance,” he added.