Murray to defend Wimbledon title as Federer aims to break personal record
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A year after ending his season with a semi-final defeat, Roger Federer has returned to Wimbledon as favourite to capture a record-breaking eighth title and become the tournament's oldest champion.
Federer has already said it would not be easy to break a record eighth Wimbledon crown even considering the recent struggles of his title rivals.
The Swiss, who turns 36 in August, has stunned the critics who wrote him off as yesterday's man when he went down to Milos Raonic in five gruelling sets on Centre Court in 2016.
The loss forced him off tour for the remainder of the year to rest a knee injury, leaving his Grand Slam title count on 17 where it had been since 2012.
But a year later Federer will try to break the tie for seven Wimbledon titles he shares with Pete Sampras and take his career tally at the majors to 19.
With eternal rivals Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in slumps of varying degrees and Rafael Nadal fretting over whether or not his knees will bear the stress of grass courts, Federer has a chance to shine once again.
But he said he would not write off the three major rivals with whom he has shared all the Wimbledon titles since his very first win in 2003.
"If Andy is anything close to 100 percent physically, I consider him one of the big favourites to win. It's that simple. It's the same for Novak and the same for Rafa," said Federer.
"I think it's very even when we put it all out on the line. Everybody has their own little story right now."
Murray dooged by hip problem
Defending champion Murray, who is about to become a father for the second time, is fresh off a first round exit at Queen's at the hands of Australian world number 90 Jordan Thompson.
The world number one, who was also Wimbledon champion in 2013, has also been dogged by a hip problem which left him grimacing in pain in training this week.
Murray opens proceedings on Centre Court on Monday against lucky loser Alexander Bublik with coach Ivan Lendl insisting the champion will be fit.
"Unlike before Paris, he is hitting the ball really well. Practice has gone well," said Lendl.
Other than the four main rivals, there are several players to watch this year:
- Nick Kyrgios - the 22-year-old has won victories over the bigger names and his two victories over Djokovic this year show he can handle what the very best have to offer;
- Milos Raonic - despite being at a crossroads in his career, Raonic has gone further at Wimbledon than any other Grand Slam;
- Alexander Zverev - the youngest player in the top 20 is viewed as a future No 1 by many. The German player possesses a steady serve, while he can hold his own on the baseline too. And his victory over Djokovic in Rome stunned many;
- Stan Wawrinka - the Swiss world No 3 is a three-time Grand Slam champion, but his flaw may be the fact that he is not doing so well on grass.
Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will play the first match on Centre Court on Monday against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.
Djokovic will face Slovakian Martin Klizan in the first round with a potential third round blockbuster against Juan Martin del Potro.
And Rafael Nadal will take on Australia's John Millman.
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