Federer wary of threats to 7th Wimbledon crown
Federer, now without a Grand Slam title since his 16th major at the 2010 Australian Open, was stunned by the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals last year, as his attempt to match Pete Sampras’ record of seven titles was shattered.
It was his earliest exit at the All England Club since his first round loss to Mario Ancic in 2002.
But the 29-year-old Swiss has been buoyed by his unexpected run to the French Open final, where he came up short against Nadal, after ending Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak in the semifinals.
“I know I could tie with Sampras here. It’s obviously something very special and important,” said Federer, who starts his campaign against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.
“For me if I close my eyes and think about Wimbledon, it’s the moment when I lift the Wimbledon trophy. That’s the picture I see the strongest.”
But clouding that view is defending champion Nadal, who beat Federer to win a sixth French Open two weeks ago, as well as Australian Open champion Djokovic and Queen’s winner Murray, bidding to end Britain’s 75-year wait for a men’s champion.
World No. 1 Nadal took his Grand Slam title tally to 10 with his latest Roland Garros triumph - his fourth final win in Paris over Federer - and is only six majors behind the Swiss.
The Spaniard will be chasing his third Wimbledon trophy and time is on his side. He is almost five years younger than Federer who, at 29, will be acutely aware that Sampras’ seventh and last Wimbledon triumph in 2000 came two months before he reached the same age.
But Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion and runner-up in 2006 and 2007, is not prepared just yet to consider himself a better player than his great rival, who he has faced 25 times.
“When you talk about these statistics, when you try and make these comparisons, really it’s not very interesting to me,” said Nadal, who faces American Michael Russell in the first round on Monday.
“I’m very happy with what I have, with who I am. I’m not the best player in the history of tennis. I think I’m amongst the best. That’s true. That’s enough for me.”
Djokovic, who is poised to depose Nadal as world No. 1, has yet to make a Wimbledon final, losing in the 2010 semifinal to Berdych in straight sets and to Nadal in 2007.
But the world No. 2 Serb, who skipped the traditional Wimbledon warm-up at Queen’s Club because of tendinitis, has been tipped to finally succeed at the All England Club by Andre Agassi.
“I think he will be even better there and hungrier for success,” said 1992 champion Agassi.
World No. 4 Andy Murray, bidding to become Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936, made the semifinals in 2009 and 2010.