Swiss tennis star Roger Federer says he has the "game, attitude and experience" to win a record 15th grand slam title at Wimbledon, which started on Monday.This content was published on June 22, 2009 - 08:18
The 27-year-old from Basel currently shares the record with Pete Sampras. He is confident he can add many more Wimbledon titles to the five already in his cabinet.
Federer's first opponent was Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun, whom he beat on Monday in straight sets 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
He was not expected to have much trouble with a player ranked 64th in the world, but he will have to deal with higher expectations from his fans, after winning the French Open and following Nadal's decision not to play in the tournament due to injury.
However, the Swiss star remains confident: "I'm more of a man than a year ago and am no longer afraid of five-set matches. I can now cope with the pressure a lot better," he said, referring to the thrilling match in Paris earlier in the month against Germany's Tommy Haas, in which Federer overcame a two-set deficit.
"It's nice to see that I can come out of a fight as a winner."
Federer's first-ever title at Roland Garros came after being runner-up for the past three years. He beat Sweden's Robin Söderling in the final in straight sets.
"[That's] maybe my greatest victory – or certainly the one that takes the most pressure off my shoulders," he said.
Nevertheless he says he is still hungry for more success on the grass courts of Wimbledon in southwestern London.
"I don't want to underestimate the other players, but I have the game, the attitude and the experience to win many more titles here."
Simon Cambers, a British tennis journalist, agrees. "Now [Federer's] got the French Open off his back, he's going to be more relaxed and that makes him more dangerous – especially on grass where he's been so good in the past," he told swissinfo.ch.
"He doesn't feel he needs to prove anything anymore, whereas he did until just a few weeks ago."
Federer's fearlessness of five-set matches could be crucial, even if he will not face Nadal in this tournament.
Federer saved two championship points in a fourth-set tiebreak last year but eventually lost the epic match – described by John McEnroe as "the greatest I've ever seen" – 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7.
That defeat prevented Federer from lifting the Wimbledon trophy for a record sixth consecutive year and also ended his 65-match winning streak on grass.
After Nadal knocked him off the top of the world rankings in August, Federer said his main goal would be to regain the Wimbledon title rather than the top spot.
"While I'd love to beat Pete's record, and also to regain my number-one ranking, I place winning another Wimbledon title above all else," he said at the time.
While Cambers thinks Federer can cope with the pressure, he says the Swiss will still face tough competition – from the likes of Britain's Andy Murray, seeded second.
Trains still burned coal, "Gone With The Wind" had just hit bookstores and Elvis Presley was one year old when a British man last won Wimbledon, back in 1936. But Cambers says Murray's got a "very good" chance.
"Not only is he in great form – he's won the most tournaments apart from Nadal this year – but he likes grass and he's at home."
Federer said his nerves almost overwhelmed him in Paris: he admitted that the last game, serving for the trophy, "was almost unplayable for me". So what would be rushing through Murray's mind when trying to win his first grand slam title – and one with so much historical significance?
"Yes there's pressure of performing in front of a home crowd, but I don't think Murray really feels it that much," Cambers said.
"The big thing for him is that he's already beaten Federer and Nadal. He knows Federer doesn't like playing him – [Federer] panics a bit and goes for too many big shots. Murray has won six of their eight matches."
Switzerland's second best men's player, Stanislas Wawrinka, who partnered Federer to Olympic glory in Beijing, is seeded 19th and has odds of 200-1.
In the women's competition, Serena Williams is just ahead of her sister Venus as favourite, with Switzerland's top player Patty Schnyder, seeded 21, being offered at 200-1.
Another Swiss, 19-year-old Stefanie Voegele, plays her opening round match against Venus Williams on Tuesday.
Thomas Stephens, swissinfo.ch
In 2001 Federer ended Pete Sampras's 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round of the tournament.
By winning Wimbledon in 2003, Federer joined Stefan Edberg, Pat Cash and Björn Borg as the only players to win both the juniors' and men's Wimbledon championships.
Federer has won five consecutive men's singles titles at Wimbledon (2003-2007), a feat only ever accomplished by Borg.
Pete Sampras holds the record for the total number of Wimbledon wins with seven.
1. Rafael Nadal, Spain (withdrew)
2. Roger Federer, Switzerland
3. Andy Murray, Britain
4. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
5. Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina
6. Andy Roddick, United States
7. Fernando Verdasco, Spain
8. Gilles Simon, France
9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
10. Fernando Gonzalez, Chile
11. Marin Cilic, Croatia
19. Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
Other Swiss openers
Patty Schnyder (21) vs. Ai Sugiyama (38) of Japan.
Timea Bacsinszky (109) vs. Vesna Manasieva (162) of Russia.
Stanislas Wawrinka (19) vs. Eduardo Schwank (106) of Argentina.
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