Mon­day’s court sched­ule

Fed­erer, Djokovic, Nadal and Mur­ray con­trol “their turf ”

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Howard Fen­drich

LON­DON» As usual, Roger Fed­erer, No­vak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Mur­ray are play­ing well at Wim­ble­don, lead­ing the way into Week 2.

“It’s their turf,” said Ernests Gul­bis, who stood in Djokovic’s way in the third round but failed to present too much of an ob­sta­cle. “It’s their home court.”

Not since Lley­ton He­witt won the cham­pi­onship 15 years ago has some­one other than Fed­erer (a record-equal­ing seven ti­tles in that span), Djokovic (three), Nadal (two) or Mur­ray (two) left Wim­ble­don with the men’s sin­gles ti­tle. In ad­di­tion, that so-called Fab Four ac­count for eight run­ner-up fin­ishes dur­ing that stretch.

Count Fed­erer among those shrug­ging at the quar­tet’s suc­cess so far, with only one set dropped among the lot.

“I thought that every­body this week was go­ing to find their form, es­pe­cially speak- ing about Andy and No­vak . ... With me, I hoped I was go­ing to be there. Whereas with Rafa’s con­fi­dence, I thought he was also go­ing to be there,” said Fed­erer, who has a cold. “So I’m not that sur­prised.”

This Grand Slam sea­son has been just like old times.

Fol­low­ing a pe­riod in which Djokovic, and then cur­rent No. 1 Mur­ray over­took Fed­erer and Nadal in the rank­ings, and started reg­u­larly ap­pear­ing in — and win­ning — ma­jor fi­nals, the lat­ter two have re­asserted them­selves.

First, Fed­erer re­turned from miss­ing the last half of 2016 while let­ting his sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee heal and has been as im­pres­sive as he has been in some time.

He won his first Grand Slam ti­tle in 4½ years at the Aus­tralian Open, beat­ing long­time ri­val Nadal in the fi­nal.

If that was the first in­di­ca­tion that Nadal, too, was truly back af­ter his own health is­sues, an­other one came at the French Open, where he won his record 10th tro­phy with­out drop­ping a set.

He’s now run his con­sec­u­tive sets streak at ma­jors to 28, ty­ing his per­sonal best and, in the Open era, sit­ting be­hind Fed­erer’s run of 36 from 2006-07 and John McEn­roe’s run of 35 in 1984.

“Against Rafa,” said the man he de­feated in the third round, 30th-seeded Karen Khachanov, “if you give him time, he can de­stroy you.”

The men’s fourth-round matchups are set for Mon­day.

Wim­ble­don is the lone Grand Slam tour­na­ment that sched­ules all 16 re­main­ing sin­gles matches on the same day.

On the women’s side, at age 37, Venus Wil­liams is the old­est woman left. At 19, Ana Kon­juh is the youngest.

There is an in­ter­est­ing age dy­namic in the men’s event, too: The seven play­ers 30 or older in the round of 16 rep­re­sent the most to get that far in the 50 Wim­ble­dons of the Open era.

Fed­erer turns 36 in a month, Nadal is 31, and Djokovic and Mur­ray are 30. They’re joined by Gilles Muller (34), Kevin Anderson (31) and To­mas Berdych (31).

“I came through the ju­niors with all these guys. It’s nice to see them still hang­ing on, still en­joy­ing the tour, still be­ing tough out there, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for the young­sters to break through,” Fed­erer said. “There is a bit of that clash right now — the young ones try­ing to push out, es­pe­cially, the 35plus guys. But then there’s a strong, strong team, as well, around the gen­er­a­tion of Rafa and Mur­ray and Djokovic, ob­vi­ously.”

Julian Finney, Getty Images

Spain’s Rafael Nadal has had a lot to smile about en­ter­ing his fourth-round match at Wim­ble­don on Mon­day. Nadal is the reign­ing French Open cham­pion; he didn’t lose a set while win­ning the tour­na­ment in Paris for the 10th time.

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