Roger Federer does a lot of things very, very well on the tennis court. But there’s one thing he’s never been able to get right.
Although he defeated Rafael Nadal in four sets on Saturday (AEST) to advance to the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic and give himself a chance to win his 21st grand slam title, Federer still found a way to become the object of ridicule.
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His standing as one of the greatest players the world has ever seen will only grow if he picks up Wimbledon crown number nine but he’ll have to balance that adulation with knowing he will never be able to shake his reputation as the worst challenger in tennis.
Since it was introduced, Federer’s inability to correctly challenge calls using Hawkeye has become the stuff of legend. He thinks balls are in when they’re out and out when they’re in.
He really should just avoid it altogether.
But with the match edging to the finish line, Federer couldn’t help himself — in what nearly became the biggest blunder of his career.
Nadal was serving, down 3-5 in the final set and Federer blasted a return winner that should have given him a match point and the opportunity to book his place in the final.
But before he realised his shot was going to be unreturnable for the Spaniard, Federer challenged the call that Nadal’s serve was in.
Unsurprisingly, Federer got his challenge horrendously wrong and Hawkeye showed the ball was clearly in. The incorrect challenge gave the point to Nadal and instead of moving to match point, it was back to deuce.
The Swiss star’s reaction when he was proved wrong was priceless.
That Fed face 😬 pic.twitter.com/eeeTD3vaCr
Federer winning the next point only made the situation worse — in reality the match should have been over. Instead he was forced to sweat through a nervy final service game during which Nadal had a break point of his own.
Former Aussie star Rennae Stubbs and plenty of tennis writers were quick to mock the 37-year-old for failing yet again in the challenge department.
The only thing Roger stinks at is his line calling😂😂😂😂😂🤓🤓🤓
Federer hits amazing return…but then it turns out he's challenging the serve, which was way in. That's remarkable self-sabotage. #Wimbledon
Still the worst Hawkeye challenger in tennis history. Bless.
Ah, so Federer is officially the worst challenger in history.
Worst Ever Use Of A Challenge. #Federer It’d have been match point o_O
Thankfully for Federer, his poor judgment didn’t come back to haunt him as he survived a marathon final game and served out the match.
Nadal didn’t make it easy for him though, saving four match points — including one with a scintillating crosscourt backhand passing shot that flew by Federer as he charged towards the net.
But Federer made no mistake on match point No. 5, raising his arms in triumph as the Centre Court crowd roared its approval.
MIRKA RIDES EVERY SHOT
Mirka Federer reacts in the family box. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) /Source:AFP
Of all the gasps in the crowd during those frantic final moments, the loudest of all were probably coming from Federer’s wife Mirka.
The mother of his four children was riding every wave with him during the rollercoaster clash, and was often spotted with her face in her hands as she was reduced to a nervous wreck.
A brilliant photo perfectly encapsulated how relief was her overriding emotion when Federer won the match, even while everyone else was delirious with joy.
When you love Roger… ❤ /AELTC pic.twitter.com/JStBb1JZDY
(🎥@Eurosport_RU ) pic.twitter.com/VpYRb0QV7v
That breathe-out sigh by Mirka said it all.
Mirka letting all her breath out in a relieved huff because she didn’t breath at all during that point was extremely relatable.
One of my favorite parts of Federer getting deeper into his career is Mirka allowing herself to be VISIBLY MORE STRESSED than she ever was in his younger days.
What a match! Man these guys are so good. (Poor Mirka Federer looks like she’s in agony on every point.)
Mirka can’t watch LOL
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