LONDON — As Roger Federer was winning 35 consecutive service points at Wimbledon on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) — yes, 35 in a row — a Centre Court spectator cheered him on while wearing a red shirt with white lettering that said, "PeRFect."
He comes pretty close to living up to that at times.
Federer moved into the third round at the All England Club as he chases his record-extending ninth championship there, using close-to-impeccable serving to beat 73rd-ranked Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.
The 36-year-old Federer compiled 48 winners and just 11 unforced errors. He won 40 of 43 first-serve points, never faced a break chance, and delivered 16 aces.
"Sometimes your serve matches up better against certain players," he said. "There's no doubt about that."
Talk about an understatement.
At 4-3, 40-30, Federer hit a 118 mph ace to hold and start his roll that included the last five points he served in the first set, all 20 in the second, and then the first 10 of the third. By then, it was so dominant that one television announcer was moved to jokingly exclaim, "Come on, double-fault!"
Federer did not oblige, but moments later, he did lose a point he served at 4-1, 30-love, when Lacko smacked a down-the-line backhand passing winner.
"I think (what's) important when you want to serve well is your point-for-point mentality, saying, maybe, 'The first point is as important as a break point,' so the concentration is the same," Federer explained. "Trying to remember all the things you've done throughout the entire match — what has worked, what hasn't worked."
Very little did not work on this day, and he's allowed his two opponents to collect a total of 17 games through six sets.
Very little hasn't worked for him over the years at Wimbledon, even now that he's in his mid-30s.
Wednesday's result increased Federer's streak to 26 straight sets at Wimbledon, equaling his second-best run, which came in 2003-04. His best was a 34-streak sequence from 2005-06.
A year ago, Federer became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the title at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament without ceding a single set.
So what, Federer was asked, makes him so successful on grass?
"I don't know. I don't know," he began, before offering quite a list for someone who doesn't know.
"Maybe it's that it helps my slice. That maybe the footwork on grass comes easier to me than for other guys. I'm not sure. Then because I have a decent speed on the serve, and I can serve kick and slice. Maybe also the grass helps me just a little bit to get a few more free points than what it would on some other surfaces."