Fed­erer ready to lord it on lawns

Afro Voice (National Edition) - - Afro Sport -

ROGER Fed­erer’s choice of prac­tice part­ner at a serene, sun­drenched All Eng­land Club this week of­fered a re­minder that the Swiss great is mor­tal on the most fa­mous of tennis lawns.

Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky stunned Fed­erer in the sec­ond round in 2013, a year in which he failed to reach a Grand Slam fi­nal for the first time in 11 years and in which the old magic ap­peared to be on the wane.

Watch­ing him five years on, just shy of his 37th birth­day, saunter through a light­hearted hit with Stakhovsky on a pris­tine Court Three, crack­ing jokes with club chair­man Philip Brook and ping­ing effortless win­ners for the ben­e­fit of a few awe­struck ground staff, ev­ery­thing looked in place for yet an­other ti­tle run in south west London.

Fed­erer did not drop a set last year as he ended a five­year wait for his eighth Wim­ble­don ti­tle, beat­ing Croa­tia’s Marin Cilic in the fi­nal to move past the pro­fes­sional era record he shared with Amer­i­can Pete Sam­pras.

With his Grand Slam haul now at 20 af­ter win­ning a sixth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle in Jan­uary, also against Cilic, the king will take some shift­ing from his Wim­ble­don throne when Cen­tre Court opens its doors on Mon­day.

Hav­ing opted to miss the en­tire clay court sea­son to spare his knees the bat­ter­ing his med­i­cal ad­vis­ers say is worse on the slip­pery red dust, Fed­erer’s bat­ter­ies will be fully­charged for Wim­ble­don and his grass court game looks ra­zor sharp.

He played nine matches in two weeks in Stuttgart and Halle, win­ning his 18th lawn ti­tle in Stuttgart be­fore hav­ing his 20­match win­ning streak on grass ended by Croa­t­ian Borna Coric, one of the so­called Next Gen tipped to break the stran­gle­hold that Fed­erer and Rafael Nadal still ex­ert on men’s tennis.

While he played down that de­feat, it will def­i­nitely nag and be­neath his ul­tra­re­laxed de­meanour in the build­up to the grass­court ma­jor, Fed­erer will know only too well that he will need his A­game to claim a ninth ti­tle. – Reuters


DE­FEND­ING CHAM­PION: Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land.

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