June 21, 2017
Roger Federer’s superb form in his opening match at Halle left him on the verge of securing a top-four seeding for Wimbledon – and that means he can avoid Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray until the semi-finals.
Defeat for Stan Wawrinka at Queen’s left Federer needing just one more victory in Germany to secure the easier route through the pack at Wimbledon.
Federer saw off Yuichi Siguta in just 52 minutes at Halle for his 1,100th career win, showing the sharpness that wowed the tennis world and brought him so much glory earlier in the year.
And the great man must now be favourite to win an incredible nineteenth Grand Slam and eighth Wimbledon title when the serious action starts in London next month.
The bookies had Federer joint favourite with Andy Murray for the Wimbledon title. But then Murray lost to world number 90 Jordan Thompson at the Queen’s Club, leaving his Wimbledon preparations in temporary disarray.
There is of course still plenty of time for Murray to come good. In 2012 he crashed out in the first round at Queen’s, but reached the Wimbledon final, where he was edged out by Federer.
There is every possibility that we could still see a repeat of that final, which would be a dream for British tennis fans.
After all, Murray’s problem against Thompson was clearly in his head. He was flat mentally, he almost didn’t turn up, such was the poor quality and execution of his shots, particularly his forehand.
Thompson won 7-6 (7-4) 6-2. But Murray let slip a 3-1 lead in the tie-break as though he just didn’t care, and brought the same absent-minded attitude to proceedings in the second set.
The idea of Murray failing to engage in a meaningful fight at Wimbledon itself is inconceivable. The extra adrenaline the tournament brings will give him the fizz he needs to get past lower-ranked opponents.
Then Murray will be likely to raise his game further still, against quality rivals in the latter stages of Wimbledon 2017.
Having said all that, who is Federer’s greatest rival for the Wimbledon 2017 crown? It must be Rafael Nadal.
Yes, even though Nadal has seen fit to rest on the grass so far, his tennis at Roland Garros looked so unbeatable that he must surely be a massive threat to Federer at Wimbledon.
Sure, Nadal has pointed out that a lower posture on grass means more stress on his knees, and he cannot guarantee that his body will hold up well enough.
But if Nadal is ever to take the Wimbledon title again, it must surely be this year. He has benefited from the greater rest time between the French Open and Wimbledon. He is hitting the ball harder than ever. Deep down he must rate his chances.
How the world would love to see a repeat of the 2008 final between Federer and Nadal, finally won by the Spaniard in near-darkness.
And you can never rule out Novak Djokovic either, despite his indifferent form of late.
Whatever happens, it looks as though Roger Federer will be at the centre of everything. And is anyone going to be less than enthralled at the prospect of that?
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