Sublime Federer hands out masterclass

By Mark Meadows

LONDON (Reuters) - Roger Federer battered Adrian Mannarino so badly in a 6-2 6-3 6-2 romp Thursday that the Wimbledon crowd began to root for the sorry Frenchman rather than their beloved six-times champion.

Like a rabbit caught in the Center Court floodlights, the world number 55 was given a tennis lesson by the Swiss maestro in a second-round mismatch.

Federer, who next meets 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian, was forced to wait around all day after the earlier two Center Court matches went the distance and he was in no mood to waste any more time in his first ever match under the rainproof roof.

He raced into a 3-0 lead in the first two sets with the crowd taking increasing pity on the left-handed Frenchman, who had no logo on his inexpensive shirt and too often fired his serves into the net.

The ever-diplomatic Federer did not mind the crowd urging on the underdog.

"The atmosphere was fantastic," the third seed told reporters.

"It's unusual, it's very nice to play indoors for the first time, I've played 10 years on Center Court."

Such was the ease of the encounter that Federer began to drop his guard and a huge roar went up when Mannarino sent a superb a winning passing shot hurtling past the Swiss on his way to three break points.

Federer, though, simply cranked up the gears and stormed back to take the game and the second set before sealing victory to light applause, as if the crowd had become too accustomed to his beguiling brilliance.

They quickly fell in love with him again when streams of autograph hunters appeared at the end and Federer could well do with their support against tricky Argentine Nalbandian.

"I didn't enjoy playing against him too often," he said. "I expect it will be a difficult match."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)