In the lead-up to Wimbledon, we’re asking six burning questions—three about the men’s field and three about the women’s field—about the 131st edition of the Championships. Click here to read them all.
Roger Federer has been incredible this season when he’s played, but he took a huge break between Miami and Stuttgart and hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2012. Can he be considered the favorite, or is it unrealistic to think that lightning will strike twice?
It almost seemed as if the first quarter of the season from Federer was a dream. No one could have predicted that the all-time Grand Slam men’s singles title leader would add to his record-setting haul at the age of 35—and after returning from a six-month layoff due to injury.
Then again, if there’s anyone capable of proving the doubters wrong, it’s Federer.
He won the Australian Open for his first Grand Slam title in five years, taking consecutive five-setters against Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal, his longtime rival, in the last three rounds. He lost in his second match in his next tournament to Evgeny Donskoy, ranked 116th at the time.
Federer was able to put that shock defeat behind him to sweep through the first two Masters 1000 events of the year in Indian Wells and Miami. In those finals he knocked out Wawrinka and Nadal, respectively, to complete his third career “Sunshine Double.”
Following that, the question on everyone’s mind was how Federer would fare on the clay.
Well, the Swiss star answered that one quite emphatically by choosing to skip the whole clay-court stretch, including the French Open, in order to ensure that his body would be fresh for the rest of the season.
After his return to tennis on the grass courts of Stuttgart, it looked like that decision might not have been the proper one as he fell in his opening match to his longtime friend, Tommy Haas, in shocking fashion.
But Federer knows that, with the way the tour is structured, there’s often an opportunity to bounce back, which is what he just did in Halle.
Going for his ninth title at the tournament, Federer romped through the field without the loss of a set. In the final, he crushed the player considered one of the brightest young stars in the game, Alexander Zverev. It was a turnaround from last year, as Zverev defeated Federer there for one of his first big wins.
Now, Federer has Wimbledon on the horizon and will be entering the year’s third Grand Slam playing some of the best tennis of his life. And given the question marks about the forms of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, he has to be considered the favorite. Federer hasn’t faced either of those two—who’ve won five of the past six Wimbledons—yet this year. However, with the way that he’s been competing in 2017 heading into his most successful major, it would be difficult to pick against him.
And just think: In his losses against Donskoy and Haas, Federer actually had match points. Just imagine if he’d gotten through those encounters and gone on to win those tournaments. His favorite status for Wimbledon would be even higher than it already is.
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