Tennis: Federer clings onto Wimbledon lifeline

Tennis: Federer clings onto Wimbledon lifeline
Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during the quarter final

PARIS - Roger Federer surveyed the wreckage of another French Open on Tuesday and insisted he can bounce back by becoming the oldest man to win Wimbledon.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner was knocked out of Roland Garros in the quarter-finals in straight sets by Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka - it was the first time in 13 years he had failed to break serve in a match at a major.

It was a depressing statistic for a man getting used to being confronted with the numbers game.

Federer will be 34 in August - the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the modern era was Arthur Ashe who was 31 years and 11 months when he triumphed at the All England Club in 1975.

He is likely to finish his career with just one French Open title from 2009 at Roland Garros, the scene of his least successful Grand Slam performances.

The world number two won the last of his 17 majors at Wimbledon in 2012 and in the three years since, he has only contested one Grand Slam final - finishing as runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year in London.

It's a far cry from the golden days of 2003-2010 when he never went a year without winning at least one major.

Since his runner-up spot at Wimbledon in 2014, Federer has been a semi-finalist at the US Open where he lost to Marin Cilic before being ousted in the third round in Australia in January by Italian journeyman Andreas Seppi.

That was Federer's earliest loss in Melbourne in 14 years.

At least Tuesday's quarter-final exit to Wawrinka was an improvement on last year's Roland Garros performance - a fourth-round loss to Ernests Gulbis.

"I am already thinking about Wimbledon because it's a big goal for the season," said Federer after his 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) loss to Wawrinka, just his third in 19 career matches with his Davis Cup and Olympic gold medal-winning compatriot.

"That's where I want to play my best. This year is a bit different as we have an extra week to prepare but there is nothing positive about losing today because I don't need the extra days.

"I will recover and spend time with my family, then look forward to Halle and Wimbledon. It's a big goal. I want to win it and I feel like my game is good. It's been solid, it's been positive and I have just got to keep it up." However, the fate of his contemporaries at the majors will be a concern.

His great hero Pete Sampras won the last of his Wimbledon titles as a 28-year-old in 2000 while Andre Agassi was aged 32 and 11 months when he captured his seventh and last Grand Slam in Australia in 2003.

Sampras's last Wimbledon in 2002 saw him defeated in the second round by Switzerland's George Bastl, the world number 145.

Agassi's life in the majors ended in the third round of the US Open in 2003 with German world number 132 Benjamin Becker applying the fatal blow.

But Federer has been down this road before.

In the French Open final in 2008, Rafael Nadal allowed him just four games in his worst Grand Slam humbling.

But he recovered from what could have been a shattering loss to win the 2008 US Open, 2009 French Open, 2009 Wimbledon, the Australian Open in 2010 and Wimbledon again in 2012.

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