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.”
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