It took Roger Federer a mere one hour and 45 minutes to defeat his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday, securing his 28th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final berth in the process and breaking the record set by Jimmy Connors. And while most pundits continue to focus on the top two here at the French, the no.3 seed is quietly going about his business carving his way through his quarter of the bracket and today taking out an opponent ranked just 13 places below him in the world with consummate ease.
Wawrinka has always flown under the Swiss radar, what with Federer's record-breaking 16 Grand Slam titles occupying the entire screen and not leaving room for so much as a blip for Stan "the man". He decided to change all this last year when he hired former Federer coach Peter Lundgren to take him to the proverbial next level.
Federer found himself taking on his career-minded compatriot in what was their tenth meeting. Stan surprised Roger on the Monte Carlo clay two years ago but Federer had already avenged that defeat six times over, including a straight-setter here a year ago to the day.
Lundgren has encouraged a more attacking game from his new charge, a strategy that has seen him reach the quarter-finals of the last two Grand Slam tournaments, but he frequently comes up short against top 10 opposition and that trend continued today. The Davis Cup teammates (and Olympic gold medal winners in 2008) each made 18 forays to the net, but Roger's were better timed, invariably after he had stepped in to challenge Stan's second service. Wawrinka meanwhile was guilty of what the French call "monter en chaussettes" (literally "approaching in your socks"), coming to the net at precisely the wrong time - a tactic many are guilty of when trying to take the game to more talented opponents.
Federer took the opener with the most sublime sliced backhand down the line. Any nearer to Wawrinka and the latter would have pounced on it, any further away and it would have missed the line. Babolat kissed chalk however and the first set was in the bag. Two breaks came in the second, the stand-out point coming with Stan at the net and Roger steadying his feet, taking a deep breath and lobbing to perfection.
After coming back from two sets down to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five on Friday, Wawrinka hinted at another late rally when he broke to open the third set and held service up until 4-1. Federer was not in the mood to hang around however, breaking back to make it 3-4 before getting his nose in front at 6-5 and serving out with an ace.
While all the talk continues to revolve around Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Federer has yet to lose a set or even look troubled here, despite facing opposition of the calibre of Wawrinka, Feliciano Lopez and Janko Tipsarevic. Perhaps the one milestone the Swiss still has yet to achieve in his career is 50 wins at each of the majors. He is well beyond that figure at Wimbledon and the US and Australian Opens, but "lags behind" in relative terms here at the French. Today he took his tally to 47 - another three would give him the half-century - and in the process another title…