Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer discuss chances at Wimbledon 2016
Former World No. 1 Roger Federer will play his first match at Wimbledon 2016 against Guido Pella of Argentina on Centre Court today. The seven-time Wimbledon winner, considered one of the greatest players of all time, was the subject of rumours that he would withdraw from the tournament after he failed to show up for a practice session against World No. 6 Kei Nishikori.
Federer later addressed these rumours in a press conference, saying his “back has won me 88 titles, it’s good.”
The Swiss has not, of late, enjoyed the form he once did, struggling with injuries and earlier-than-usual exits at a number of tournaments – including those on his favourite surface, grass.
In an interview today ahead of his opener at the Championships, Federer described himself as having an “outside chance” at the tournament he has had his biggest successes at, and the venue of his first ever Grand Slam.
The 34-year-old, who took a break from a significant part of this season and withdrew from the French Open due to injury, said that it had “obviously not been easy,” addressing his recent semi-final loss at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany to German teenager Alexander Zverev, whose talent he acknowledged.
Federer also spoke of the immense support he has received from wife and former tennis pro Mirka Federer (nee Vavrinec) and said “Novak is excellent,” and nodded to the fact that his body has not been entirely as cooperative as he would have liked.
Despite his immense talent, Federer has of late struggled at a number of tournaments, with this season so far marked by withdrawals.He last won a Grand Slam title in 2012 – which happened to also be at Wimbledon.
Although he sat out the French Open, Federer finished in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, losing in four sets to Serbian World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
He has had mixed fortunes on the ATP Calendar this year, withdrawing from a number of tournaments – especially during the clay court season. Going now for a record eighth Wimbledon title, Federer has recently gone on record to say that winning does not matter to him as much as keeping in a sport that has “given him immense happiness.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is the firm favourite to win the title again this year, spoke fondly of his memories of the tournament. “I remember this tournament from my childhood when I imagined being a part of this event,” he said.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner recently ended his French Open ‘jinx’ with a title win at the Stade de Roland-Garros last month, and should he be able to retain his form, looks on track to defeat the 17 Grand Slam title-record held by Roger Federer.
29-year-old Djokovic takes on Briton James Ward in his opener today; Ward, who had a career-highest ranking of 89, is from London and playing a home slam. Neither Ward nor most spectators will fancy his chances against a top seed in the form of his life, which gives Djokovic an easy move through the tournament.
Given he is in the same half as Roger Federer, fans could, barring any major upsets, see a Federer-Djokovic semi-final at Wimbledon this year; the two took each other on at the finals last year, with Djokovic coming out on top.