Federer leads Wimbledon challenge

Chris Love and Shaun Messenger look forward to a fortnight of tennis at SW19

IT’S THAT TIME of the year again when footballers pack their suitcases and head off to exclusive sunny beaches full of Playboy models. While their overpaid agents go to war with clubs selling off their clients silky skills to the highest bidder, that we are able to consider other sports. Neighbours will be disrupted but that’s acceptable due to the return of Wimbledon and Henman to television screens around campus. Daily coverage will play havoc with revision and exams as we become obsessed with the annual question of ‘is this Tim’s year?’ while indulging in strawberries and cream.

Number one seed Roger Federer is odds on to join Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg as the only players to win three successive titles. Unbeaten on grass since 2002 and having lost only three times this year, Federer’s ability to hit winners from any angle, to control a rally from the baseline and then seamlessly convert to a serve and volley game combined with his ice cold composure, makes him the man to beat.

Top of the chasing pack is the world’s fastest server Andy Roddick, who looks the most likely to stop Federer claiming his third successive title. Having lost to the Swiss in his past two outings at SW19 Roddick will be thankful that following his victory at Queens he is now on the opposite side of the draw. A potential second round clash with Queens Finalist Ivo Kalovic, the tallest man in tennis makes Roddicks progress into the later stages less than certain.

The newly crowned master of clay Rafael Nadal is an unknown quantity on grass, having only previously played once in Wimbledon. All will depend if he can adapt his game to the grass quickly, and Nadal’s draw contains none of the other main contenders until a semi-final, which may be the best the Spaniard can hope for.

No guide to Wimbledon would be complete without the Tim Henman factor. Another year on he is again our only hope of a British winner since Fred Perry 69 years ago. Henman remains the best volleyer in the world but is let down by a lack of penetration on serve which was highlighted following a disappointing Queen’s. However, few would bet against Tim reaching the quarter finals and a likely clash with Roddick. Henman will have to produce the best tennis of his career if we are to hear the cries of ‘come on Tim’ echoing down halls at the end of week 10.

Despite Henman’s best efforts it would take a brave man to bet against another epic encounter between the conflicting styles of the powerhouse that is Roddick and the subtle mastery of Federer.

Chris Love and Shaun Messenger

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