Wimbledon gets underway today and goes on for the next two weeks. For once, the mens’ side holds some intrigue. For the last five years Roger Federer has won the title, and he has done it with ease bordering in ridiculous. This year, though, things are a bit different. He hasn’t had the dominating year he has had recently, and people aren’t nearly as scared of him as they used to be. Bjorn Borg said perhaps the most ridiculous thing in history when he suggested that Federer was done and that if and when he lost at Wimbledon he would probably retire. Novak Djokovic is only the third best player in the world, and he hasn’t had any more success beating Federer than he Rafael Nadal, but even he called out Roger this week. Their is definitely the smell of change in the air.
Let me say this as quickly and directly as I can – Roger Federer is not going to lose. He will win his sixth straight championship on the grass in front of the Queen. I’m all for guys speaking out, and it’s about time that someone grew a backbone when talking about the guy, but to view him as anything other than the solid favorite here is just ridiculous. Need a reason? Here are four:
1. He’s won five freaking titles in a row. No player in the world is more perfectly suited for the surface or plays it at such a high level. He is so far ahead of the crowd that he can win on it even if he isn’t at his best. Nadal has only won one career tournament on grass. Djokovic has yet to prove that he is ready to play with the big boys. Behind those three there is little to get excited about. David Nalbandian, the seventh seed, should have been as strong on grass as anyone, but he was upset by a little known Canadian in the first round.
2. He is coming off a final at the French. Federer isn’t particularly good on clay, and Nadal made him look foolish in the final of the French Open. That’s not the important thing. The key is that he made the final. And he has for each of the three years. He is far from the best player on the surface, yet he keeps making it through the draw. He’s just that good, and forgetting about that is just dumb.
3. You don’t fluke into 12 titles. Remember the U.S. Open a couple of weeks ago. Tiger had a torn ligament and a broken freaking leg, yet he still won. He’s better and he wants it more. Federer is the Tiger of the tennis world. The trash that everyone else is talking will only make him madder and make him want to win more. Djokovic is on track to hit Federer in the finals, so waving a red cape in front of Federer is proof of just how smart the youngster isn’t.
4. He’s still the heavy favorite. Bodog had Federer on at 1/1 to win the tournament. Nadal was next at 7/4, and Djokovic was way back at 5/1. No other player is better than 16/1. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is particularly close.
5. He’s coming off a win. Federer won the Gerry Weber Open, a key grass prep, in his last start. He’s won that tournament five times in the last six years. The only time he didn’t win it was last year, and he didn’t play. A win there has been a pretty good indicator of solid form in the past, so there isn’t much reason to think that it’s not this year.