Defending the title: Federer gets perks of a champion, then a tough road ahead at Wimbledon

  • Article by: EDDIE PELLS , AP National Writer
  • Updated: June 23, 2013 - 12:55 PM

LONDON — As he has six previous times, Roger Federer will open Wimbledon on Monday as the defending champion, stepping onto Centre Court for the first match of what he hopes will be another two-week stay at the All England Club.

It's an honor reserved for the men's titleholder. That scheduling perk is also where any hint of preferential treatment for Federer comes to a halt. Because of the way the draw came out, Federer could have to defeat Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray before even getting to the final.

"I'm ready for the challenge," Federer said. "I like tough draws. I don't shy away from them."

Federer's quest for a record eighth Wimbledon title begins against Victor Hanescu of Romania.

Murray also plays Monday, wrapping up the day's action on Centre Court against Germany's Benjamin Becker. Nadal, who comes in with a stretch of nine straight appearances in tournament finals since returning from his knee injury, faces Belgium's Steve Darcis on Court 1.

Sitting back watching it all will be top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who is on the opposite side of the draw and, on paper, has the easiest path to the final. No. 4 David Ferrer is the biggest roadblock on his side of the bracket.

"I think it's going to be a great Monday for tennis," Djokovic said with a smile.

He's the 11-10 favorite at the London sports books and will open Tuesday barring rain, which is not in the forecast for most of the first week.

Third-seeded Federer's tough draw, to say nothing of his age (31) and his less-than-inspiring 2013 season makes him something of a long shot this time at Wimbledon. He's listed at 9-1 behind fifth-seeded Nadal (9-2), second-seeded Murray (7-2) and Djokovic.

Then again, grass is considered Federer's best surface and the lone tournament he has won this year came this month on grass at Halle, a tuneup in Germany that Federer has won six times.

"The more you play on it, the more you learn about it," Federer said. "Today I know what it takes, which is a good thing. The excitement is the same. Still hungry and wanting to win and wanting to prove how good I can play."

Sounding at times like a fan of Murray's during his 45-minute news conference, conducted in English, French and Swiss-German, Federer conceded that as he entered his final against the Scot last year, he wondered if it was, in fact, Murray's time to finally break through at a major. Federer fought off Murray for a four-set victory to extend his record Grand Slam title haul to 17.

Murray then came back four weeks later at the All England Club and beat Federer in the Olympic gold-medal match. The Scot then beat Djokovic in the final at the U.S. Open to finally win his first Grand Slam trophy.

"I was happy with the way I played, but I was happy with the reaction that Andy showed, as well," Federer said, referring to the aftermath of last year's Wimbledon final. "Because in previous years, the one time I beat him in the Australian Open final, he went on a sort of a bit of a disappointing run after that. That wasn't the case after Wimbledon (last) year. He actually got much stronger. That's why he increased his chances now by winning big tournaments."

Murray might not be favored, but he certainly will be the fan favorite. No British man has won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray said the way he lost to Federer at Wimbledon last year — playing aggressively, not sitting back waiting for things to come to him — put him in a better frame of mind for the rest of the season and his eventual breakthrough.

"A combination of that final and the way I played in it, and also having the Olympics to look forward to, I think that was the period that changed me ... changed my mindset a bit," he said.

Like Federer, Murray finds himself on the "tough'" side of the draw. Nadal's seven-month absence because of a left knee injury dropped him in the rankings and accounted for his No. 5 seeding, his lowest since he was unseeded for his Wimbledon debut in 2003. Nadal is one spot behind Ferrer, even though he beat his fellow Spaniard in straight sets in the French Open final.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close