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.

"I am No. 5 in the world today, so the rankings say'" it is no longer a discussion, Nadal said. "It is completely fair that I am No. 5.'"

Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, faces a possible quarterfinal against Federer. The winner of that could play Murray in the semifinals.

"I have no issue with the seeding," Murray said. "I'd rather Rafa and Roger were on the other side of the draw, but they're not. And then, you just deal with that. Hopefully I'll be able to put myself in a position where that becomes relevant because that would mean getting to the semifinals, and I'd love to be there."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 59 3rd Qtr 5:30
Chicago 61
Cleveland 2:30 PM
Houston
Golden State 5:00 PM
Boston
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Indiana
Portland 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Orlando
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Denver
Los Angeles 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Tampa Bay 4:00 PM
Florida
Columbus 4:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Vancouver
SMU 12 1st Half 7:41
Connecticut 18
Quinnipiac 20 1st Half 8:04
Manhattan 21
Fairfield 15 1st Half 9:01
Niagara 15
Marist 18 1st Half 6:53
Rider 9
Iona 20 1st Half 5:40
Saint Peters 29
Oregon State 2:00 PM
California
South Florida 2:00 PM
Houston
Marquette 2:30 PM
Providence
Michigan State 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Siena 3:30 PM
Monmouth
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Stanford
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Colorado
Washington St 8:30 PM
UCLA
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 43 2nd Half 9:23
UMBC 48
Elon 54 2nd Half 8:40
Hofstra 36
Virginia Tech 43 2nd Half 7:11
Boston College 40
(8) Louisville 47 2nd Half 8:19
Virginia 47
Texas 54 2nd Half 7:40
West Virginia 40
Creighton 45 2nd Half 5:50
Villanova 47
Seton Hall 67 2nd Half 2:00
Butler 72
UNC-Wilmington 57 2nd Half 10:00
Coll of Charleston 42
(5) Maryland 56 2nd Half 7:21
(25) Northwestern 39
Saint Josephs 51 2nd Half 5:48
La Salle 43
Louisiana Tech 34 2nd Half 10:30
TX-San Antonio 40
Rhode Island 15 1st Half 9:21
Massachusetts 16
Richmond 10 1st Half 8:22
VA Commonwealth 15
Davidson 15 1st Half 7:30
Fordham 23
St Bonaventure 18 1st Half 6:34
Duquesne 18
George Mason 3 1st Half 10:10
(22) George Washington 26
Indiana 21 1st Half 7:06
(20) Rutgers 17
(12) Texas A&M 10 1st Half 11:59
LSU 21
Ole Miss 11 1st Half 6:32
(11) Miss State 13
Clemson 15 1st Half 7:43
Pittsburgh 7
Maine 19 1st Half 4:09
New Hampshire 17
Vermont 13 1st Half 6:46
Albany 24
Quinnipiac 12 1st Half 9:44
Monmouth 11
Saint Peters 16 1st Half 8:18
Siena 14
(4) Notre Dame 24 1st Half 7:42
NC State 17
Wisconsin 22 1st Half 6:32
Penn State 16
Stony Brook 9 1st Half 11:24
Hartford 10
Northeastern 18 1st Half 8:05
William & Mary 22
St Johns 11 1st Half 10:06
Xavier 7
James Madison 18 1st Half 7:14
Delaware 24
Towson 2:00 PM
Drexel
Illinois State 2:00 PM
Bradley
Southern Ill 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 2:00 PM
Wichita State
Minnesota 2:00 PM
(17) Iowa
(15) North Carolina 2:00 PM
(16) Duke
Alabama 2:00 PM
Auburn
(9) Florida State 2:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Arkansas 2:00 PM
Missouri
Georgia 2:00 PM
Florida
Dayton 2:00 PM
Saint Louis
Drake 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
(10) Arizona State
(19) Stanford 3:00 PM
Oregon
Marquette 3:00 PM
DePaul
Southern Miss 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Vanderbilt 4:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Arizona
Ohio State 4:00 PM
Nebraska

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

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