London: Roger Federer claims Rafael Nadal’s vulnerability on grass will be a significant boost to his chances of winning Wimbledon for a record-breaking eighth time.
After reigning supreme at Wimbledon for so long, Federer has reached only one of the last four finals at the All England Club and suffered a humiliating second round defeat last year against unheralded Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
But the 32-year-old is back in south-west London confident of breaking his tie with Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles, with his spirits raised by winning the warm-up event at Halle, where world no. 1 Nadal once again looked uncomfortable on grass in a dismal straight sets defeat against Dustin Brown.
That was Nadal’s third successive loss on grass after his embarrassing Wimbledon defeat against Belgium’s Steve Darcis 12 months ago and an equally chastening exit at the hands of Lukas Rosol in 2012.
Nadal faces a tricky first round tie against Martin Klizan and world no. 4 Federer believes the second seed will have to tread carefully as he tries to find his feet on grass in the opening rounds.
“I think he might be slightly more vulnerable in the early rounds,” Federer said. “This new, fresh, lush grass, we’re not quite used to it. As you go deeper in the tournament, it becomes easier to move; the ball bounces a bit higher; it becomes more what we’re used to.
If Nadal avoids another early exit, the pair are scheduled to meet in the semifinals.
“I feel like if things click here I should be able to win the tournament; whereas at the French I feel like I’m slightly more dependent on Rafa. He’s the only guy really,” Federer said.