With Wimbledon starting up again, the annual question on the men’s side is whether world No. 2 ranked Roger Federer can add to his record-setting trophy case with his 18th major victory.
After all, with seven Wimbledon grass-court titles to his name already, this is annually Federer’s best chance for another Grand Slam title that would give him a little more breathing room over Nadal’s 14.
It’s been three years (2012 Wimbledon) since Federer last won a Grand Slam, though, and time is not on the 33-year-old’s side.
On the flip side, few players have aged as gracefully as Federer.
Federer, who turns 34 in August, is just coming off his record-setting eighth Gerry Open title—a grass-court tuneup to Wimbledon—where he dropped just one set the entire tournament. That followed his quarter-final loss at Roland Garros, with the silver lining that he was defeated at the hands of eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.
He clearly is still capable of one more magical run. He just needs everything to fall into place—like the draw. Fortunately he has a somewhat favorable one.
The second-seeded Federer, with a 34–6 mark this year, has only sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych as the lone top-10 player in his quarter of the bracket. Federer has beaten Berdych 14 times in 20 career matches—including both times in 2015.
After that, a possible semi-final showdown between either Andy Murray or Nadal would await him. Federer would likely be favored in either matchup.
While Murray will be the crowd’s hometown favorite, no one roots against the universally popular Federer, who’s beaten Murray each of the last three times they’ve played—including in the 2014 Australian Open quarter-finals.
On the other hand, Nadal—who owns a career 23–10 record over Federer—historically has been Federer’s biggest nemesis. He hasn’t lost to Federer in a major since 2007—a span of six Grand Slams—and two of them were straight sets wins.
But the 29-year-old Spaniard hasn’t been himself this year, sporting a 33–11 record with one of those losses coming at the French Open—the same major he’d won nine times in 11 appearances.
Should he make it to the finals, the No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic will likely be waiting for him.
Djokovic, 41–3 this year, is clearly having his way with the rest of the field. The 28-year-old has gone to the finals in four of the last five Grand Slams, while winning two of them—including last year’s Wimbledon final where he denied Federer his 18th major in a five-set classic.
Federer, who still owns a career 20–19 mark over the Serb great and is one of only three players to beat him this year, would surely have a measure of revenge on his mind should the two meet again.