Roger Federer survived a huge Wimbledon scare on Tuesday when French opponent Adrian Mannarino was forced to retire injured at the start of the fifth set of their first round tie with the Swiss great admitting: “I got lucky”.
Eight-time champion Federer was level at 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 6-2 when Mannarino called it quits after just one point in the decider.
The Frenchman, celebrating his 33rd birthday, suffered a bad fall on the Centre Court grass in the seventh game of the fourth set.
Despite taking treatment from the trainer, he was hardly able to move and, grimacing in pain, had to retire.
“It’s awful and shows one shot can change the outcome of a match, season, career and I wish him all the best and hope we see him back quickly,” said Federer.
“He was the better player, he could have won, I got a bit lucky.
“That’s how it goes sometimes, you don’t get many walkovers and try not to have it happen to yourself.
“It’s a reminder how quickly it goes but I am obviously happy I can get another match here — I enjoyed myself today and it was great fun until the end.”
Federer fired 16 aces and 54 winners on Tuesday but will be concerned by committing 45 unforced errors.
Just five weeks shy of his 40th birthday, Federer next faces Richard Gasquet of France who defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Federer has an 18-2 winning record over Gasquet who last beat the great Swiss star in 2011.
Federer also expressed his sympathy for Serena Williams who retired with an injured ankle after falling on the same section of Centre Court later in the day.
Williams, the seven-time champion, was 3-3 with Aliaksandra Sasnovich when she quit in tears.
“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof. I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling,” said Federer.
“You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down.
“I do feel it’s drier during the day. With the wind and all that stuff, it takes the moist out of the grass. But this is obviously terrible.”
He added: “This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”