Nick Matthew column: Ace tip picking up tips on Centre Court

Nick Matthew met Roger Federer at Wimbledon
Nick Matthew met Roger Federer at Wimbledon

Attending the middle Saturday of the Wimbledon Championships with my wife Esme was a brilliant experience.

We had a fantastic day sitting in the royal box on Centre Court, rubbing shoulders with other sportsmen and celebrities. We were so well looked after and the matches were great.

Lots of famous sports people were at SW19. I spoke to Andy Murray’s mum Judy and had a good chat with former Ireland rugby union star Brian O’Driscoll. Esme met and had her picture taken with British ballroom dancer and television presenter Anton du Beke. She loves Strictly Come Dancing so that made her day!

I had the pleasure of speaking to Roger Federer after his third round victory over Sam Groth. I got introduced to Roger and he is a really humble guy and very down to earth. Roger was asking me whether I was going to be coming to Zurich to play in the PSA event there next year. I was meant to play in the tournament this year but was injured.

I have played Federer’s coach, Stefan Edberg, at squash a couple of times before in the Swedish Open Pro-Am so we chatted a little about that and Roger was mortified to find out that Stefan is a really good squash player!

I went to Wimbledon with the intention of relaxing and switching off, but I couldn’t help but watch and learn a few things from tennis with a view to applying it to my own game.

It was interesting seeing live Federer and Murray how aggressive they are. Groth has got a massive serve but Roger kept on stepping inside the baseline to try and return it early. Sometimes Groth was serving at 145mph-plus but Roger knew he would not get the job done by being passive.

On Roger’s own serve, it wasn’t about power. He focused on accuracy and making sure he hit the corners of the box.

What I loved about watching Murray against Andreas Seppi is the way he mixes up his change of pace and angle. He slices his backhand and throws in lobs and drops shots too.

What I noticed about both Roger and Murray is that when the ball goes behind them in the court, they have still got the ability to hit a squash like shot to keep themselves in the rally. They make so few unforced errors and break opponents so much due to an accumulation of pressure.

Roger and Murray have got so much variety and don’t just rely on plan A so it would be a fascinating if they played each other in the semi-finals this week.

Read more from our respected sports columnists here