Despite limitations due to back and knee injuries and failing to secure a singles title throughout the first-half of the year, all-time Wimbledon great and No. 3-ranked Roger Federer will take to the All England Club next week as one of the favorites to claim one of tennis’ most esteemed tournaments.
Through six tournaments entered this year, the seven-time Wimbledon champion has posted a 16-6 overall record and made several early exits up to and including the early portion of the ATP’s grass season.
Still, due to his unmatched prowess on grass, Federer will begin Wimbledon with 9/1 odds compared to favored and No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s 7/10 chances, and No. 2 Andy Murray’s 3/1, according to Sportsbook.ag.
With a 147-22 mark and 15 singles titles on grass, Federer would presumably cast aside lesser competition and only face significant challenges from top-five ranked players on his preferred surface. However, he endured a three-set loss to No. 7 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals in Stuttgart, Germany, earlier this month, and a week later slipped to No. 38 Alexander Zverev in Halle.
Those losses left Federer without a grass title heading into Wimbledon for the first time since 2012. Perhaps coincidentally, that was also the last year Federer won at Wimbledon.
Unfortunately, Federer was showing signs of wear and tear well before grass season began.
Federer reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and fell to Djokovic in four sets, but followed up during clay season with a quarterfinals letdown to No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monte Carlo, and to Thiem in the Round of 16 in Rome. The Swiss star would then opt to sit out the French Open earlier this month, claiming he wasn’t “100 percent” healthy.
Still, there are several reasons to believe Federer can turn his season around at Wimbledon. For one, No. 4 Rafael Nadal won’t be present due to a left wrist injury, and because of his world ranking and success at Wimbledon its highly unlikely Federer sees Djokovic or Murray until the semifinals at the latest. Should the 34-year-old escape an upset in the early round, he could be in the right condition to give either Djokovic or Murray a test.
The London crowd is another factor that can’t be ignored. Federer’s been a fan favorite at Wimbledon ever since he won his first title in 2003, the first of five straight, and spectators will assuredly rally around the former champion no matter who he faces.