Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer will be looking to continue the good form he has shown so far in SW19 when he takes on the 22nd seed from France, Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino, aged 30, is in arguably the best form of his life, and achieved a career-high ranking of 22nd in the world in March. But facing Federer at Wimbledon, is one of the most difficult assignments in tennis, and he will need to play his absolute best to trouble the top seed. Who will come out on top?
Federer and Mannarino have met five times in their careers, and Federer has won them all. So dominant had the Swiss been, in fact, that he hadn’t dropped a set against the Frenchman until their most recent match up in Basel last year, when he won 4-6 6-1 6-3. Prior to that, Federer had won every match comfortably, including a 6-2 6-3 6-2 win in the second round at Wimbledon in 2011, and a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win in the third round of the 2013 US Open.
Path to the fourth round
As he usually does, Federer has waltzed through the early rounds at Wimbledon. He started with a 6-1 6-3 6-4 win over Serbian world #58 Dusan Lajovic, and followed it up with a 6-4 6-4 6-1 victory against Slovakian world #73 Lukas Lacko. His third round match against the big-hitting German Jan-Lennard Struff was his longest of the tournament so far. But it still lasted only just over an hour and a half as he advanced a 6-3 7-5 6-2 winner.
In contrast, Mannarino hasn’t yet had an easy match. In the first round he faced Christian Garin, the world #167, and though challenged at times he prevailed 6-3 1-6 7-6 6-2. He then faced the USA’s Ryan Harrison, and though he won in straight sets 7-5 7-5 7-6, the match was tight throughout. He was then taken the distance by Daniil Medvedev of Russia. After winning the first two sets, Mannarino let the Russian back into the match before closing it out 6-4 6-3 4-6 5-7 6-3.
How do they match up?
Mannarino is a clever player. He lacks many tangible physical attributes, particularly power and agility. But he compensates for that with a game which relies on clever use of angles, taking the ball early, and aggressive defense. He also has excellent hands at the net, though against Federer he will need to be sparing in the use of his net game such is the top seed's ability when hitting passing shots. One area of his game that remains slightly lacking, however is his serving.
Federer, of course, is brilliant at almost everything and very few can match Federer in a toe-to-toe battle. But whilst Mannarino is not one of them, he will feel he has a chance to unsettle the great man due to his unusual style. The Frenchman hits the ball with virtually no topspin, which sends it skidding through a grass court, making it difficult for opponents to really get after the ball, and it may take Federer longer than usual to find his rhythm in this match.
If history is anything to go by, Federer shouldn’t have any problems getting this job done. Mannarino has been playing some fine tennis of late and is an never an easy opponent, but Federer should be more than capable of dealing with him. Expect the Frenchman to make a fourth round exit after a straight sets defeat for the second consecutive year, sending Federer into his 16th Wimbledon quarterfinal to ponder the tougher tests to come.