Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal poised to deliver Roger Federer knockout

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are braced to deliver a potentially fatal blow to Roger Federer's fading hopes of matching Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon wins.

Updated: June 21, 2012 10:30 IST
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London: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are braced to deliver a potentially fatal blow to Roger Federer's fading hopes of matching Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon wins.

The great Swiss is fighting time as well as an air-tight Grand Slam grip developed by Djokovic, the defending champion, and Nadal, who have won nine of the last 10 majors between them and contested the last four Grand Slam finals.

World number three Federer, who celebrated the last of his record 16 Grand Slam crowns at the 2010 Australian Open, will be 31 in August.

Sampras was 28 when he won the seventh and last of his Wimbledon titles in 2000; Djokovic is still only 25 and Nadal, 26.

It wasn't long ago that Wimbledon represented Federer's traditional bolt-hole, winning five successive championships between 2003 and 2007, then adding a sixth in 2009.

But even in his London safe haven, the shadow of Nadal has loomed large.

The Spaniard, who has just collected a record seventh French Open title, deposed Federer in a five-set epic in 2008, having been runner-up in the two previous years.

Federer's triumph in 2009 came when Nadal was sidelined with a knee injury.

In 2010, Tomas Berdych knocked him out in the quarter-finals while in 2011, the Swiss lost his first ever Grand Slam match from two sets to love up when he was bludgeoned to defeat in the last eight by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Two months later, Djokovic overcame the loss of the first two sets, and saved two match points, to beat Federer in the US Open semi-finals.

The Serb's straight sets win over Federer in the semi-finals at Roland Garros earlier this month only served to darken the Swiss player's mood.

His Wimbledon chances weren't helped by a loss in the Halle final to 34-year-old Tommy Haas last weekend.

"I don't go through days thinking, my God, I haven't won a Grand Slam in so long," he said.

"I don't get pulled down by it. Actually, I think I get motivated by it. It doesn't come in phases. I'm always been hungry for success and that's a good thing."

Djokovic heads for Wimbledon with the burden of history now off his shoulders after his bid to become just the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once was shattered by Nadal in Paris.

"You're living for this moment to play the final of any Grand Slam, and sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. I believe that there are still many years to come, and hopefully I can come back stronger," said Djokovic.

Nadal, meanwhile, has played in five of the last six Wimbledon finals -- winning in 2008 and 2010 -- missing the 2009 tournament only because of injury.

After winning a record seventh French Open, the Spaniard suffered a shock Halle quarter-final exit to Philipp Kohlschreiber.

That was his cue to head home to Mallorca to rest before heading to London.

"I cannot practice on grass but I think it's better if I don't practice for a few days," said Nadal, who captured an 11th career Grand Slam title in Paris.

"I've played enough tennis for the last couple of months -- I'm very happy with how I've been playing the whole season."

British hopes of a home champion -- the first since Fred Perry in 1936 -- once again reside with world number four Andy Murray whose build-up has been hampered by a back injury.

Murray, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon for the last three years, looked well below par in a second round loss to Nicolas Mahut at Queen's last week.

There are also two sub-plots at Wimbledon this year.

Just three weeks after the tournament ends, the Olympic Games tennis event gets underway at the All England Club.

By that stage there could also be a change at the top of the rankings.

Djokovic needs to reach the final to ensure that he remains ahead of his rivals.

Federer can retake the number one spot for the first time in three years if he wins the title and Djokovic does not advance beyond the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Nadal, who lost the world number one ranking to Djokovic after the Wimbledon final last year, can reclaim top spot if he wins the title for a third time and the Serb does not go beyond the quarter-finals.

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  • Tennis
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Andy Murray
  • Roger Federer
  • David Ferrer
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Bernard Tomic
  • Stanislas Wawrinka
  • Wimbledon 2012

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