LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Evergreen Roger Federer kept his quest for a record eighth Wimbledon crown on track on Monday, dispatching Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-2 6-4 in a match-up of classic styles that had the purists purring.
The Bulgarian 13th seed, nicknamed “Baby Fed” when he was a junior on the basis of a single-handed backhand as silkily smooth as the Swiss master‘s, looked sharp in the early exchanges.
It was close to mirror-image tennis as the two men exchanged searing groundstrokes, gliding to the Centre Court net when they saw an opening to dispatch clinical volleys.
But the difference between the greatest ever player on grass and the man who has struggled for years to emerge from his shadow told on the big points.
Third seed Federer, who missed the clay court season to better prepare for his favourite tournament, took a decisive lead in the ninth game, converting his third break point. The Swiss then served out the first set to love.
“(Dimitrov) did give me some opportunities ... but most important was for me to really focus on my game,” Federer told the BBC after the match.
“I thought it was a terrific match and I didn’t expect it to go that easy for me.”
Now 26 and seeking his first win against Federer in six matches, Dimitrov sought to up the pace in the second set.
But as he did so the Bulgarian’s error count also rose, and he conceded the second set on a break of serve, punctuating a double fault with two forehands that flew long.
That pattern continued in the third set as another forehand error from Dimitrov handed Federer victory on his second match point in just over an hour and a half.
The Swiss faces either Alexander Zverev or Milos Raonic in Wednesday’s quarter-final.
“(Winning Wimbledon) is going to be a tough one regardless if I played the French Open or not. The good thing is I am not trying to heal something like last year’s (injured knee),” Federer said.
Reporting by John Stonestreet, editing by Larry King