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Surprises rare after first week

WIMBLEDON, England — About 18 months after his last Grand Slam championship, Roger Federer figures it's about time for another: his record-tying seventh at Wimbledon.

Despite nearly a year away from the game because of a series of health scares, Serena Williams warns that she "wouldn't bet against" herself.

And though he has yet to drop a set through three matches — something he'd never managed to do at the All England Club — Rafael Nadal keeps talking up his opponents' chances.

As the 125th edition of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament heads into Week 2, the principal players and storylines are still around.

Wimbledon action resumes today with all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches. Two stand out: Top-seeded Nadal faces No. 24 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, and No. 23 Venus Williams faces No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova in a rematch of a 2010 quarterfinal won by the Bulgarian.

The Williams sisters have combined to win nine of the past 11 Wimbledon singles titles, and though Serena has played only five matches in the past 11½ months, and Venus missed about five months with a hip injury, both are clearly capable of producing top-level tennis.

"Yeah, I'm still alive, and it feels good," said Serena Williams, who could become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win Wimbledon three years in a row. "You know, I'm hoping to be around, and planning to be around, a lot longer."

Also in the picture are top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, hoping for her first Grand Slam title, and 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.

The top four men — Nadal, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Federer and No. 4 Andy Murray — filled out the semifinals at the French Open, and few would be surprised if they did that here.

Federer won his 16th major title at the 2010 Australian Open. "I don't go through days thinking, like, 'My God, I haven't won a Grand Slam in so long.' It hasn't been that long, to be honest," he said.

But he made sure to note: "I'm always hungry. And that's a good thing."

>>Fast Facts

Wimbledon

All England Club, London

Key matches

Men: No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. Juan Martin del Potro, No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. Michael Llodra, No. 3 Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Youzhny, No. 4 Andy Murray vs. No. 17 Richard Gasquet

Women: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Dominika Cibulkova, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. Nadia Petrova, No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 20 Peng Shuai, No. 7 Serena Williams vs. No. 9 Marion Bartoli

TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2

Surprises rare after first week 06/26/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 26, 2011 6:49pm]
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