Roger Federer reaches crossroads at Wimbledon
London, June 23 : Fifteen years after famously stunning Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, seven-time champion Roger Federer returns to the All England Club with his career at a crossroads and his confidence at crisis point.
The 34-year-old Swiss, holder of a record 17 Grand Slam titles, is without a major since Wimbledon in 2012 and is enduring arguably the toughest year of his career.
Injury forced him to skip the French Open ending a streak of 65 successive appearances at the Slams stretching back to 1999.
He has failed to add to his 88 titles this year, his longest drought since 2000 and has suffered back-to-back semi-final losses in Stuttgart and Halle, both on grass which has been his preferred surface of domination.
In an indication of changing times, his last-four loss in Stuttgart to Alexander Zverev was his first against a teenager in 10 years.
But the Swiss star is adamant that he can still be a winner even if clinching an eighth crown at Wimbledon would make him the oldest ever champion in south-west London, surpassing Arthur Ashe who was a month shy of his 32nd birthday when he lifted the trophy in 1975.
“I think if my movement gets better and then the baseline game improves a little bit, I’ll be better on the big points, on the return and also in less trouble on my own service games,” said Federer.
“But I’m okay and I’m pleased. I’m feeling now we’ve got enough time before Wimbledon to get ready for that.”
The fact that Federer has reached the last two Wimbledon finals is testament to his capacity to surprise both his supporters and doubters.
The problem, however, is that he lost both those championship matches to Novak Djokovic, the world number one who currently holds all four majors and is halfway to the first calendar Grand Slam since 1969.