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Federer targets a seventh Wimbledon title

Federer will be hoping to exact revenge on Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon

(Reuters)

Defending champion and top seed Roger Federer will be hoping to rack up a record-equalling seventh title and relaunch his season in Wimbledon, which opened on Monday.

The Swiss tennis star has a tough draw in the same top half as Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and former champion Lleyton Hewitt, who beat him on grass in Halle last week.

Federer will open his defence of the men's singles title against Colombia’s 65th-ranked Alejandro Falla and should have few problems.

Federer has not lost a set in four previous matches with Falla, including a lightning 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 win in only 54 minutes at Wimbledon in 2004 and 6-1, 6-2 victory on grass in Halle, Germany, last week. The Colombian has never progressed beyond the second round at Wimbledon.

"Obviously my game's made for grass," Federer said. "I definitely think every time I play, I'll have a chance to win here, there's no doubt. We all know how hard it is to win grand slam titles. But I think the experience I have on this surface can pull me through many matches maybe I would be struggling with."

The 28-year-old from Basel, who has reached a record seven consecutive Wimbledon finals, is trying to match Pete Sampras with seven titles at the All England Club.

"Being one title away from it, you're obviously aware of it," he said. "But then again, you have to break it down and make it simple for yourself by trying to win the first round. I'm happy I'm back here playing and healthy, because that's always something sometimes you can't control."

Disappointed

He will also be hoping that a Centre Court victory can kick-start his season. Although he has won a record 16 grand slam titles, including the 2010 Australian Open in February, Federer has not won a tournament since Australia.

"In Australia I really played some of the best tennis of my life," he said. "I've been disappointed I wasn't able to carry on. I know my game, my body and everything so well that I really expected to take off and just go on a tear on that."

It is the first time since 2001 that Federer has come to Wimbledon with only one tournament victory under his belt. The world tennis number two was knocked out in the French Open quarterfinals last month by Robin Söderling of Sweden.

The defeat ended Federer's streak of reaching the semifinals in 23 consecutive major events. It also cost him his number one spot, which went to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

The men's draw sets up a potential quarterfinal between Federer and seventh-seeded Nikolay Davydenko. Federer could then face fifth-seeded Roddick in a semifinal showdown. Federer has beaten the American in three Wimbledon finals, including last year's classic that went to 16-14 in the fifth set.

Nadal

Nadal beat Federer in a five-set epic final two years ago but missed last year's tournament with knee troubles. The Spaniard could face Söderling – the player he beat in Paris this month for his fifth French Open title – in the quarters.

Fourth-seeded Andy Murray, under hometown pressure again to become the first British player to win the men's title since 1936, is poised to face eighth seed Fernando Verdasco in the quarters and Nadal in the semis. But Murray could wind up in the fourth round against big-serving American Sam Querrey, who won last week's Wimbledon warm-up at Queen's.

Switzerland's second best men's player, Stanislas Wawrinka, who partnered Federer to Olympic glory in Beijing in 2008, is seeded 20th.

The Vaud player will open against Denis Istomin (ranked 74 in the world) and if he is successful should meet this year’s French Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych (seeded 12) in the third round.

Switzerland’s third male player is Marco Chiudinelli (ranked 61), whose first opponent is Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov (ranked 47).

Women

In the women's competition, top seed Serena Williams could face a fourth-round battle against Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion who is still trying to return to the top of her game after shoulder and elbow problems.

Switzerland's top-ranked female player is Timea Bacsinszky (ranked 39), who will open against Edina Gallovits (91) from Romania, while Patty Schnyder (59) faces Yung-jan Chan (83) from Taiwan.

Switzerland’s final representative in southwest London is 20-year-old Stefanie Vögele (86), who plays her opening round match against the Russian 27th seed Maria Kirilenko.

Distraction

Competitors have been swept up in the excitement of World Cup football, debating tactics, talking up their favourites and teasing each other about their national teams.

Federer joked he would install a television screen on Centre Court so he could watch Switzerland play Chile on Monday afternoon. Serena Williams says she screamed and jumped after a referee's decision that denied the United States a winning goal against Slovenia.

When asked about the same incident, Roddick said: “I understand the rules of football so well that apparently when two Slovenian guys mug an American guy, the American guy gets called for a foul.”

One sparring partner drew a smile from Serbian player Novak Djokovic on Sunday when he said Serbia was lucky to beat Germany.

No stranger to high expectations, Andy Murray – a Scot – says he feels for England's footballers, who are struggling in South Africa.

Murray has obviously learnt his lesson after joking that he would "support anyone but England" at the 2006 World Cup. He received large amounts of hate mail on his website as a result.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

In brief

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 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 in the modern era with seven.

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