Federer ready to lord it on lawns
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.