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June 27, 2017

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Federer overcomes two-set deficit for win

WIMBLEDON, England -- When Roger Federer found himself down two sets to love and staring at an early exit from Wimbledon, the crowd at Centre Court found themselves thinking back to the stunning upset that took place there a day earlier and wondering whether they were witnessing a repeat.

Federer was thinking back, too, but his flashbacks had nothing to do with Rafael Nadal. It was the scenario Federer remembered, though, that ended up repeating itself.

"Having been there so often, down two sets to love, knowing how to handle the situation (was key)," Federer said.

He proved that once again, as the six-time Wimbledon champion overcame a two-set hole for the eighth-time in his career, beating Julien Benneteau of France 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-1 Friday in the third round. With the comeback, he narrowly avoided following Nadal out of Wimbledon after the Spanish two-time winner was stunned by 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol a day earlier.

Just like he had against against 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the French Open quarterfinals 3 weeks ago, Federer found a way to wrest back the initiative and fight back.

"The thing, when you're down two sets to love, is to stay calm, even though it's hard, because people are freaking out, people are worried for you," Federer said. "You don't have many lives left out there. You just try to play tough and focus point for point. Sounds so boring, but it's the right thing to do out there."

Bennetau said he played perhaps the best match of his life, dictating play for much of the first two sets. Even that, though, proved insufficient against the 16-time Grand Slam winner.

"Mentally, he's a rock. He's two sets down and he doesn't show anything. And after that, if your level is a little bit lower — right here, right now, he takes the opportunity," said Benneteau, whose cramping thighs were massaged by a trainer during two final-set changeovers. "At the beginning of the third set, I was not as good as I was in the first two sets, and in 5 minutes, it's 4-0."

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