Djokovic, Nadal set to deliver
Updated: 2012-06-24 07:42
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (pictured) 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 past 10 majors between them and contested the past four Grand Slam finals.
World No 3 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 quarterfinals while in 2011, the Swiss lost his first 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 semifinals.
The Serb's straight sets win over Federer in the semifinals 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've 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 past 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 quarterfinal exit to Philipp Kohlschreiber.
That was his cue to head home to Mallorca to rest before heading to London.
Agence France-Presse in London
(China Daily 06/24/2012 page11)