Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wimbledon

Wimbledon preview: Federer's reign over?

Roger Federer has a chance to make a historic statement at Wimbledon this year as he takes aim at a record sixth straight title. But in light of his recent struggles, the world's No. 1 player since 2004 might wind up sending a different message from the All England Club: Roger, over and out. Asked whether the Swiss star might actually be considered an underdog, ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe responded in a conference call by saying, "I wouldn't go that far, but I certainly wouldn't say he's the overwhelming favorite that he's been the last four or five years."

Since the Australian Open, when Federer fell to Serbia's Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, McEnroe has had his doubts about the man with a dozen majors titles to his name. "Now if Roger were to win Wimbledon, he's right in the mix as far as finishing this year again No. 1. But the reality is he's been the third-best player in the world this year."

Second-ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain has the hottest hand. He demolished Federer this month at the French Open, winning this fourth straight Roland Garros title (while Federer managed to win only four games in the final).

For the year, Nadal has amassed a 49-7 match record with five singles titles.

Then there's No. 3 Djokovic, who won his first major in Australia and has built a 37-8 mark with three singles titles.

Federer, who has held the top-ranking for 229 straight weeks, is in the same ballpark: 37-8 with a pair of singles titles. But he hasn't played with the consistency of Nadal and Djokovic and no longer seems invincible on grass, where he has won 59 straight matches.

"He's still maybe the greatest grasscourt player ever, along with Pete Sampras," McEnroe said. "But I don't think he's as clear-cut a favorite."

Baby, he was Bjorn to run

A look back at the remarkable Wimbledon run of Bjorn Borg may shed light on Roger Federer's quest for the record. Consider these uncanny comparisons from the tournament's Web site, wimbledon.org:

. Borg, a right-hander, won his fifth consecutive title in 1980 by beating lefty John McEnroe in five sets. Federer, also right-handed, won his fifth in 2007 by defeating lefty Rafael Nadal in five sets.

. In 1980, Borg — known as the Ice Man — was 24 and McEnroe 21. Last year, the similarly cool Federer was 25, Nadal 21.

. Borg was coping with injuries and upset losses to Victor Pecci and Rolf Gehring as the 1981 Wimbledon began. Federer dealt with glandular fever this spring and was upset by Mardy Fish and Radek Stepanek.

. In his bid for a sixth title, a struggling Borg lost to McEnroe 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 4-6. Federer would clearly like the comparisons to end there.

"If he continues the way he has been doing and stays away from injuries, he will be the greatest player ever," Borg said. "I think the motivation is the key thing." Will it be a Williams?

Venus and Serena Williams have won four of the past six Wimbledon women's championships and own 14 majors titles between them. That fact alone makes them hard to overlook in guessing who'll win the women's title. "You have to give them a bit of an edge," ESPN analyst Mary Jo Fernandez said.

But the sisters have struggled this season, including third-round losses in the French Open. Seventh-ranked defending champ Venus has won four times at Wimbledon but hasn't reached a tour final this season, and sixth-ranked Serena's last Grand Slam finals appearance came with her 2007 Aussie Open triumph.

This year, Serena enters the tournament with a 25-3 match record, with three singles titles. Venus is 14-7 with no singles wins.

Meanwhile, Serb Ana Ivanovic, 20, continues to soar. She has assumed the top spot vacated by the recently retired Justine Henin, after her first major title at the French Open. She's 27-6 in match play with two singles victories and has reached the finals in three of the past five majors.

On the radar: No. 2 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia (33-10, one singles title) and Russia's No. 3 Maria Sharapova (30-3, three titles). Sharapova has won three majors, including Wimbledon in 2004 and this year's Australian Open. Miscellany

If Rafael Nadal finally takes the title, he'll become the first men's player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year. He's coming off a 7-6, 7-5 win over Novak Djokovic on grass at the Artois Championships last week. … ESPN2 and ESPN Classic will air three half-hour specials on Roger Federer on consecutive Sundays at 7:30 p.m. — Roger Federer: The Making of a Champion (today), Roger Federer: The Champion on June 29 and Roger Federer: The Man on July 6. Information from the Associated Press was used in this story. Dave Scheiber can be reached at scheiber@sptimes.com.

Wimbledon preview: Federer's reign over? 06/21/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 21, 2008 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lefties are batting only .169 (12-for-71) off Dan Jennings this year. Lucas Duda hit .246 with 17 HRs and 37 RBIs for Mets.
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard (20), the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.