Switzerland’s Roger Federer began the defence of his Wimbledon crown on Monday, confident of claiming a third successive title at the All England Club.This content was published on June 18, 2005 - 14:17
The world tennis number one feels at home on Wimbledon’s grass courts. He has not lost on grass for three years and extended his winning streak at Halle in Germany last weekend.
If he wins the final in two weeks’ time, the 23-year-old Swiss will become only the third man in the professional era to complete a hat-trick of men’s singles titles at Wimbledon.
Since 1968 only Sweden’s Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras of the United States have achieved the feat.
"Wimbledon is the place I prefer above all others," Federer acknowledges. "When I come here, I feel at home."
A third Wimbledon title is Federer’s stated goal for this year.
The defending champion now has 29 consecutive wins on grass, and victory in southwest London would move him to 36, within sight of Borg’s record of 41.
Since winning his third successive Halle title, Federer has been radiating confidence and has already marked out last year’s runner-up Andy Roddick and 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt as his main threats.
"Andy and Lleyton are the biggest dangers for me," he said. "I feel one of the two will be against me in the final."
Federer enjoys a big psychological edge over the pair, having beaten both of them in last year’s tournament.
He ousted Hewitt in the quarter-finals and Roddick in the final, allowing each to take a set before turning on the style to ensure victory.
Both pretenders are hell-bent on revenge and looked close to peak form at the Queen’s Club championships last week. But their best chance of winning may lie in Federer being ambushed early from an unexpected source.
The Swiss, who suffered a surprise first-round loss to Croatian Mario Ancic in 2002, is already on his guard.
"You’ve always got to watch out," he said. "There are some big servers around and some dangerous players."
By most people’s standards the world number one has enjoyed yet another successful year, picking up seven titles.
But he has yet to win a grand-slam title, after pocketing three in 2004. He was knocked out in the semi-finals of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka will be looking for his first ever victory on grass, while compatriot George Bastl will be returning to the scene of his most famous triumph.
In 2002 he reached the third round at Wimbledon after beating seven-time champion Pete Sampras in five sets.
In the women's tournament, Switzerland's Patty Schnyder is already packing her bags and heading home after she lost her first-round tie against Italy's Antonella Serra Zanetti.
Hopes now rest on Schnyder's compatriot, Emmanuelle Gagliardi.
Wimbledon started on Monday and ends on July 3.
Having won the title twice, Switzerland's Roger Federer is the favourite to win again in 2005.
Four other Swiss players are taking part in the tournament: George Bastl, Stanislas Wawrinka, Patty Schnyder and Emmanuelle Gagliardi.
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