Roger Federer always feels a little unusual when not scheduled on Day One of Wimbledon. By force of habit he usually expects to play at 1pm sharp on Centre Court as the hallowed place of defending champion.
Even two years ago, when Rafael Nadal was prevented by injury from
filling the Champion’s initial role, Federer opened proceedings. But the 29
year-old Swiss, seeded as low as no.3 for the first time since 2003 remains
second favorite at 5-2 behind defending champion Rafael Nadal at 2-1.
Nevertheless is talking like a potential winner in the build up and claims to have been performing at his top level for the past 12 months. However what really ignited his confidence was the way he terminated Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak in the semi-finals of the French Open earlier this month.
“I know I can beat Novak on any surface,” he said. “I’ve done that in the past. Just because he was on a great run didn’t mean he was unbeatable. In Paris I played really well, and here at Wimbledon I’m even more confident.”
Federer has got his sights firmly set on Wimbledon title no.7 and his first major prize since the Australian Open of last year. “Obviously I come into this tournament very confident,” he said. “The first time I had a hit on the Wimbledon grass last Monday it felt so natural right away after 10 minutes to play on grass again. I hope that feeling is going to pay off.”
Federer needs no reminding that a year ago he almost failed to get his toes wet in the Wimbledon water. He survived a five-set first-round marathon against the Colombian Alejandro Falla before being blown away by the thunderbolts of Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals in perhaps his poorest showing in 10 years.
“In that first round I got very lucky,” he admitted. “Last year it wasn’t meant to be. I had a few things I had to battle with during the tournament. But that hasn’t happened since, and that’s something I’m happy about.”
Federer pulled out of the recent Halle tournament but says he is at full fitness. He said: “I feel good about myself, about my body. I’ve recovered. The past week was vital for me to recover from my groin injury. I feel like I’m almost back to 100% again, which is a really good sign for Wimbledon.”
The bookmakers are heeding the clamor about there only being four serious contenders for the men’s singles this time and Federer backed up this opinion.“All four guys at the top feel very
comfortable on grass, whereas maybe in the past Rafa was still looking a little bit short on grass. As time went by he showed how good he was, won a couple of times here.
“Djokovic has always been great but nothing extraordinary yet, though with the run he’s on there are a lot of possibilities for him as well.”
Serena Williams Former No. 1 Serena Williams was last seen on court
approximately one year ago at Wimbledon, lifting the trophy. Since then her life has been a mix of accidents and illnesses that have combined to sideline the American for approximately 12 months.
Days after winning the 2010 Wimbledon title, she stepped on glass in a German restaurant, severing two tendons in her foot. Two surgeries later she looked on the path to a comeback, until she was rushed to a hospital emergency ward, diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and a stomach hematoma.
The 29-year-old 13-time Grand Slam champion has seen her ranking fall to No. 25 since a year ago. It remains to be seen whether the Wimbledon seeding committee will keep the defending champion's seed in the mid-20s, or more likely elevate her into the Top 5.
The younger Williams sister announced Monday night that she will make her comeback next week on grass at the Aegon International Tournament in Eastbourne, England.
"I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete again," Williams said in a statement. "These past 12 months have been extremely tough and character building. I have so much to be grateful for. I'm thankful to my family, friends and fans for all their support. Serena's back!"
The four-time Wimbledon champ will be joined in Eastbourne by her five-time Wimbledon champ sister Venus, who due to various injuries of her own has not competed since the Australian Open in January
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is considering adding to her body art with another tattoo. But the ideas got a modest reception around the Roland Garros locker room when the flamboyantly dressed "Lady Gaga" of the sport polled some of her peers.
Mattek-Sands already has an unfinished tat on her inside right arm, which she has said in the past was so painful to complete that she has so far left it undone. She also sports her favourite flower, the lily, on her bicep and a "ring" on her finger to remind her of her husband.
But more ink could be on the way, possibly before Wimbledon. "I told a couple of the girls in the locker room that I was going to get maybe a band around my upper thigh," said the American. "Nobody liked it in the locker
room. But I still might do it, I kind of like it.
"It's still up for debate what I'm going to do," she said of the ink which she hopes to squeeze in before Wimbledon starting in less than a month.