Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Federer v Gabashvili as it happened

Wimbledon first round result: R FEDERER (Swi) 1 bt T Gabashvili (Rus)

6-3 6-2 6-4

GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES:

By Tom Fordyce


THIRD SET

Federer 6-4 Gabashvili
That’s your lot – Federer does the off-polishing, and he’s on the march once again. He waves regally to the crowd, shakes hand with his vanquished opponent and then watches in surprise as Gaba stalks off court without waiting for him. Tim Henman up next, if you fancy hanging around…

Federer 5-4 Gabashvili
Gaba, nothing if not gutsy, stays alive with a cheeky lob that has Federer scrambling back in a most undignified manner. Another bonus Gaba nugget for you – his brother Levan plays pro basketball for Tbilisi Dynamo.

Federer 5-3 Gabashvili
The bendy carbohydrate does the job beautifully, and Champ holds serve to 15 to move within flicking distance of victory.

Federer 4-3 Gabashvili
The battling Gaba – whose uncle was a world diving champion, I’m told – holds again with a brace of boomers on his first serve. Roger, with gold flashes on his short-sleeved shirt, glides to his chair for a restorative banana.

Federer 4-2 Gabashvili
Normal service is resumed by the somewhat riled champ, and you sense the end is nigh. Screams of anguish drift over from Court Two, where Britain’s Naomi Cavaday has just blown a match point against former champ Martina Hingis.

Federer 3-2 Gabashvili
Fist-pump from the youngster as he takes his service game to love. Valentino Ross shows a flash of a white-toothed smile.

Federer 3-1 Gabashvili
A whisper of a sniff of a glimmer of a chance for Gaba as Federer nets an easy backhand to set up a break point and then puts his first serve out – but a deep spitter of a forehand snuffs out the break, before two driving forehands seal the deal.

Federer 2-1 Gabashvili
A historic moment at Wimbledon – the first ever Hawk-Eye challenge on Centre Court as Gaba queries a Federer line-clipper. The replays show he was right to, too – the ball tickled the outermost edge of the chalk. Gaba applauds the line-judge in question, to slightly patronising chuckles from the crowd.

Federer 2-0 Gabashvili
Federer holds despite a ripper of a forehand pass down the line from Gaba, and Mirka is moved to a brief burst of applause.

“Every set he plays, he gets better.” More from Boris

Federer 1-0 Gabashvili
Heart-breaker for Gaba as he’s broken in his first service game of the set. He jumps in the air and stamps his feet like a petulant eight-year-old. Roger blinks back at him.

“Aye yai-yai…” BBC TV’s Boris Becker

SECOND SET

Federer 6-2 Gabashvili
Wallop – Roger smooths back his lank hair, pours on the power and takes the two-set lead. Fed hit 16 winners in that set, with a mere three unforced errors. And he’s landed 83% of his service returns. Not even a smirker from Mirka, though – she pops a chewing-gum into her mouth without so much as a flicker of pleasure.

Federer 5-2 Gabashvili
The best game of the match so far – Federer produces a dream of a top-spin lob to set up two set points, only for Gaba to grit his teeth, stiffen his resolve and save them both with howitzers of forehands. A big first serve keeps him alive.

Federer 5-1 Gabashvili
Another easy hold for the champion, and after a mere 49 minutes Gaba must now hold serve to avoid going two sets down. The biggest round of applause of the day for an elderly gentleman in the crowd, who clings on to a bouncing Federer smash with the skill of Mark Waugh at his peak.

Federer 4-1 Gabashvili
A second break for Rog as his groundstrokes over-power his rueful opponent. Mirka is wrapped in a cream scarf from the loom of Yves Saint Laurent, her small lips pursed against the cold.

Federer 3-1 Gabashvili
Easy from Federer – he takes the game to love with a lovely angled backhand cross-court and a rocket of a serve wide to Gaba’s backhand. Grunts from Gaba as he throws himself around court in brave yet fruitless pursuit.

Federer 2-1 Gabashvili
Good comeback from the world no.86 – a raking forehand pass past the stranded Swiss and a boomer of a first serve to follow it up.

“Quite a character, Gabashvili, isn’t he?” BBC TV’s John Barrett.

Federer 2-0 Gabashvili
Fed comes in to the net behind a huge spinner of a second serve and produces a drop-volley that Asafa Powell couldn’t have reached. Grey skies overhead, but the moisture stays away for the time being.

Federer 1-0 Gabashvili
Disaster for Gaba – Roger sets up two break points with a top-spin backhand pass, and takes the second of them when Gaba is unable to deal with a backhand slice that bites on the baseline and dies a rapid death.

“The Russian is getting a little stroppy now, stomping his feet.” BBC TV’s Boris Becker

FIRST SET

Federer 6-3 Gabashvili
There it is – the first set in the bag for Federer, although he’s only operating at around 70%. A few first set stats for you – Gaba only landed 34% of his first serves, compared to Roger’s 65%.

Federer 5-3 Gabashvili
A first ace of the match from Gaba seals a solid service game to love. Gaba is sporting a white baseball cap worn back to front, in the classic style of an east European apeing a late 1980s hip-hop star.

Federer 5-2 Gabashvili
Three games on the bounce for Fed, and he’s very much in control. The atmosphere is still muted, although Federer’s mum – just a few seats away from Jackie Stewart – is beaming proudly.

Federer 4-2 Gabashvili
Gaba’s first serve is now looking shaky again, and Federer sniffs a break. He puts his foot on the gas and moves Gaba around court like a boy playing with his toy soldiers, and takes the game to love when Gaba nets a tame backhand.

Federer 3-2 Gabashvili
Champ is having to take this seriously – he’s removed his sleeveless monogrammed sweater and now has his game face on. Gaba rakes a forehand past him but has no answer to two kicking serves and a rally which squeezes the life out of him.

Federer 2-2 Gabashvili
Super work from the man from Tbilisi – showing zero nerves, he beats Federer down the line and booms in two solid first serves to seal the game. Up in the VIP area, a sunglassed Valentino Rossi watches on impassively.

Federer 2-1 Gabashvili
Two raking forehands set up a 0-30 lead for Gaba, and there are murmours of disbelief around the roofless Centre Court. But Fed eases up a gear, picking up the next four points with a casual brutality. His girlfriend Mirka risks the wrath of the officials by blatantly sending a text message on her mobile phone.

Federer 1-1 Gabashvili
The tall Gaba – who goes by the nickname Tsunami – slips on the lush turf to concede a break point. A battle of backhand slices saves the day, before a delightful top-spin roller of a backhand from the Russian takes him to advantage. Some nervy first serves peg him back – he’s only landing a third of them in – but Federer wafts a lazy backhand long, and he’s on the board.

Federer 1-0 Gabashvili
Easy opener for the champ – his serve clicks from the word “Play”, and Gaba doesn’t have the answers.

14.43 BST:
Afternoon all – after a yawnsome two-hour rain delay, we’re finally ready for the first joyful Centre Court action of the 2007 tournament. And the breaking news is this – Roger has come out on court wearing long white trousers, his favourite cream blazer and gold-heeled shoes.

After a brief warm-up in the trousers, he sits down on his chair and removes them with the aid of two recessed zips running the length of each leg. It’s a sartorial move on par with Bucks Fizz’s stunning skirt-ripping antics at Eurovision all those years ago.

Story from BBC SPORT:

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