A number of great players have dominated Wimbledon in their time. Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Pete Sampras have all enjoyed spells of supremacy in south London, but none in the Open Era can boast a record to match Roger Federer.
The Swiss genius won his first Wimbledon title in 2003 and went on to win it six times in the next nine years. Incredibly, at the point when tennis experts were predicting his imminent retirement, Federer returned to win his eighth title in 2017, surpassing the record of Pete Sampras. That win was part of a late career resurgence that has taken him back to the top of the world rankings and also earned him back-to-back Australian Open titles.
However, it is at Wimbledon that Federer has always shown his best form. As well as his eight tournament wins, he has three losing final appearances and has only once failed to reach the last eight in his last 15 attempts. It will be no surprise to see Federer top the betting list for Wimbledon again this year on Stakers.com. Having predicted his decline for a number of seasons, tennis experts and bookmakers alike are taking no chances in 2018!
What is it that makes Federer so effective on grass? Well, being one of the greatest players ever to play the game certainly helps! But there is no doubt that he looks at his most unstoppable and stylish on this surface.
Of all the surfaces used in top-level tennis, grass is the fastest and offers the least grip. That places a premium on good footwork, and this is one area where Federer has always been supreme. The Swiss floats across the ground, and his speedy footwork enables him to get into the right position to play his next shot more often than opponents.
Grass courts reward good net play. At the beginning of his Wimbledon dominance, Federer excelled at this aspect of the game, regularly following up his serves with pinpoint winning volleys. Over the course of his career, his net play became less prominent as he adapted to take on a string of heavy-hitting baseliners, but in recent years Federer has refreshed this element of his play and that has been a major part of his resurgence.
The speed of the grass surface also gives full value to great servers, and Federer has one of the smoothest, most effective serves in the game. His perfect technique enables him to serve with incredible accuracy and to disguise his serve with ease. He may not be the fastest in the game, but he is one of the most proficient servers around and is in his element on grass.
The final element that helps to explain Federer’s Wimbledon dominance is his naturally attacking style. Unlike many top players, Federer likes to go on the offensive, setting up winners rather than waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. His breathtaking forehand approach and mesmeric backhand down the line are some of the greatest shots ever seen at Wimbledon, and his attacking instincts have contributed to his phenomenal success, as well as providing tennis fans with countless magical Wimbledon moments.
How is he looking this year? The season is still young, but there is no sign of Federer losing form. As well as picking up the Australian Open in January, he won his 97th career title in Rotterdam earlier this month, and although he will pick and choose his tournaments this year – which could make it hard for him to retain the number one spot – he will know exactly how to prepare for Wimbledon to ensure that he arrives in London in peak condition.
Can anyone stop him from picking up a record ninth Wimbledon? The rest of the Big Four are enduring problems of their own. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are recovering from surgery, while Rafael Nadal is likely to leave his best form on the clay of Paris. Of the other contenders, Federer has little to fear on grass from Marin ?ili? or Dominic Thiem, while Alexander Zverev is not yet ready to win Wimbledon, and Grigor Dimitrov has yet to live up to his potential, despite having a playing style well suited to grass.
All the indications are that Federer’s career renaissance will continue in 2018 and lead to a ninth Wimbledon title, at the age of 36, and another chance for the London crowds to enjoy the graceful, elegant style of one of the game’s all-time greats.