London: Roger Federer says he is in the pefect condition to win Wimbledon for a record eighth time as the Swiss great bids to avenge last year’s “heart-breaking” final defeat. Federer’s last appearance at the All England Club 12 months ago ended in the despair of a five-set loss against Novak Djokovic that left him shedding tears during the post-match presentations.
The distraught seven-time champion was so overcome by emotion that Prince William and his wife Kate, who were the All England Club’s guests of honour, stopped to console Federer when he passed them on his way back to the Centre Court locker room.
But Federer is adamant he has moved on from that painful day and he returns to his favourite Grand Slam determined to finally surpass Pete Sampras and William Renshaw as Wimbledon’s most successful male singles champion.
“If I look at last year, I see more the positives than actually the heart-breaking loss in the final,” Federer said. “I didn’t expect myself to right away make the final. To be honest, I was still somewhat on the way back (from injury). But things went faster than I thought they would.
“It goes to show that last year, I wasn’t playing great and I made the finals. Whereas now I feel my game is better. I can really aim for Wimbledon this year. I feel like I see a big picture more now.”
Federer, who starts his 17th All England Club campaign with a first-round tie against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, arrives in south-west London back up to second in the world rankings and in confident mood after winning the Wimbledon warm-up event at Halle for the eighth time last week.
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Even so, he has only won one Grand Slam in his last 18 attempts at Wimbledon in 2012 and the bookmakers have him as third favourite for the title behind world number one Djokovic and 2013 champion Andy Murray.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner suffered an embarrassing Australian Open third-round defeat against Andreas Seppi in January and was routed in straight sets by compatriot Stan Wawrinka at the French Open recently. With Murray or Rafael Nadal as potential semifinal opponents, and Djokovic likely to be lying in wait in the final, Federer’s bid for one more milestone won’t come easy.