Roger Federer was famous for his elegant forehand, elegant one-handed backhand and serve – to name a few of his big weapons – in his prime, and it’s hard to forget that he often made some amazing trick shots. Teenagers.
In the third round of the 2011 Italian Open against Richard Gaschett, the tennis great scored a one shot.
Federer, seeded third behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the ATP Masters 1000 event at the Foro Italico, was involved in a veritable slugfest with the Frenchman – a player he has beaten eight times in a row.
The Swiss – a 16-time Grand Slam winner at the time – took the opening set 6-4 before Gaschet hit back to level to take the match to the decider.
At 4-4 in the third game, Federer was serving 15-0 up and dominated early as Gaschet raced from corner to corner in the rally. After two shots, Federer looked to have won the return straight down the middle, but he stood his ground and did not lose his composure as he played a beautiful game.
Naturally, there were “oohs and aahs” from the crowd and after two more shots, Gaschet smashed the ball into the net to hand Federer the point.
But when Federer won the point, Gaschet won the match by beating the Frenchman 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4).
“I shouldn’t have lost,” Federer lamented after the match. “He knows how close he is to losing. I had a lot of opportunities.”
He added: “It was difficult to play there, it was a slippery field. As the game went on, Richard started to play better. Especially since he was serving better, my level went down and Richard made it worse.
“It was very difficult, I never felt that I could possibly win [third set] Breaker. It’s not fun to play that way.”
The Swiss went on to win their next 11 matches, marking the second and final time Gaschet had defeated Federer, eventually finishing with a 19-2 head-to-head record against the Frenchman.
The Roma winner was far from the Swiss maestro’s best shot when it came to his most famous “exhibition shot” at the 2009 US Open to beat Novak. Djokovic in the semifinals.
At the time, Federer said: “It’s the biggest shot I’ve ever hit in my life.”
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