HALLE (Germany): Roger Federer’s defeat of Pete Sampras in the Wimbledon fourth round two years ago seemed certain to set the Swiss man on the road to grand slam glory.
But despite possessing a bundle of talent, Federer has become the enigma of the tour, winning a succession of tournaments only to fail when it comes to the biggest stages.
It may seem harsh to criticise a player who has climbed to number five in the world rankings and who crushed German Nicolas Kiefer 6-1, 6-3 in the Halle Open final on Sunday.
But in seven grand slam events since the victory over Sampras, Federer has never gone beyond the fourth round and he has lost in the first round on three occasions.
Federer took heart from his Halle triumph, his first grasscourt title, describing it as “the perfect preparation for Wimbledon”.
But now he must carry the momentum of the Halle win with him to London next week, after a few days’ rest at home.
Last year, after entering Wimbledon as one of the favourites, Federer was blown off court in the first round by big-serving Croat Mario Ancic.
His mental strength was again called into question at the French Open last month when, despite being seeded fifth, he lost in the first round to Peruvian Luis Horna, who had never won a grand slam match before.
“He didn’t play a bad match and I didn’t play a good match, the one definitely helps the other, you know?” was all Federer said in Paris.
With his classic serve-and-volley game, allied to a superb backhand and good speed around the court, Federer would seem an ideal candidate to succeed at Wimbledon, if he can survive the opening round. – Reuters