- Title: UK: TENNIS: Federer says winning back Wimbledon crown is his number one priority
- Date: 21st June 2009
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDY MURRAY, SAYING: "Yeah, I feel like I'm better equipped to win a Grand Slam this year than I was last year. Uhm, and, yeah, I think I have a chance of winning, but I understand how difficult that is to do. You know, it's very easy to, you know, sort of say, Oh, Rafa's not playing, you know, Andy's got, you know, a much easier route to the final. I don't view it like that at all. You just focus, you know, on each match at a time, the first one, and try and win one best-of-five-set match every couple of days and not get ahead of yourself. I feel like I've got a chance, but I'll have to play great to do it."
- Embargoed: 6th July 2009 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA6QCZ5NB7QN91DJQMZEMB1W2R1
- Story Text: Roger Federer, Andy Murray, the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova talk about their hopes ahead of Wimbledon 2009.
Never mind edging ahead of Pete Sampras as the greatest collector of tennis's big prizes, all Roger Federer really wants is his Wimbledon crown back after it was wrestled from his grasp 12 months ago.
The 27-year-old world number two tied Sampras's 14 grand slams with his maiden triumph at the French Open this month and after defending champion Rafael Nadal's withdrawal on Friday (June 19) from the year's third major he will start as favourite to re-write the record books.
"But trying to regain my Wimbledon crown, I guess, so that stands over trying to beat, you know, Pete's record right now. But I guess once I come down to the semifinals or finals, hopefully, you know, in like 10, 12 days, you know, then hopefully that's also gonna start creeping into my mind. But right now, just trying to regain my Wimbledon crown. It would be a dream come true, of course," Federer, who will be aiming for a sixth title in seven years at the grasscourt slam, told reporters after hitting at the All England Club on Saturday (June 20).
The Swiss said he was sad Nadal's knee injury has put a temporary halt to one of the sport's greatest rivalries. The Spaniard beat Federer in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last year.
"So that's disappointing for me, of course, because I'd love to play him. He's my main rival. We've had some wonderful matches over the years, and especially the one here last year was the one that obviously stands out," Federer said.
The year began in floods of tears for Federer in Australia where world number one Nadal inflicted another defeat on the Swiss -- a crushing blow that had many fearing his days as a major force could be numbered.
Things could not be more different now, however, after marrying his long-term girlfriend Mirka and then holding his nerve to win at Roland Garros after claycourt king Nadal's early exit had opened the door to one prize absent from his CV.
"You know, there's such a relief and happiness once it was all over that for me it was almost impossible to change it all around again and start, you know, a tournament from scratch again like two days after," said Federer, who skipped his normal grasscourt tune-up event in Halle to gather his thoughts.
Federer will open his 11th Wimbledon campaign on Centre Court on Monday against Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan.
Nadal absence means British world number three Andy Murray, hoping to become the first home winner of the men's title since Fred Perry in 1936, is now left as highest seed in the top half following Nadal's withdrawal and is slotted to meet Del Potro in the semis. He faces American Robert Kendrick in his opener.
"You know, it's very easy to, you know, sort of say, Oh, Rafa's not playing, you know, Andy's got, you know, a much easier route to the final. I don't view it like that at all. You just focus, you know, on each match at a time, the first one, and try and win one best-of-five-set match every couple of days and not get ahead of yourself. I feel like I've got a chance, but I'll have to play great to do it," Murray told reporters on Saturday.
It has taken British fans a while to warm to Murray but his U.S. Open final appearance last year, his rise to number three in the world and last week's title at Queen's have raised expectations. But the 22-year-old said he can cope with Murray-Mania.
"Because at the end of the day, it makes no difference if, you know, some guy thinks I can win the tournament or, you know, whatever. You know, the guys that I work with and myself, it's important what they think about my game and how we approach all of the matches. But I think I can deal with it, yeah. But, you know, it's just making sure you stay away from, you know all -- just not letting yourself get distracted is the most important thing. I think I've got the right people around me to stop me from doing that," he said.
In the women's draw Williams sister will be an act to beat. Defending women's champion and third seed Venus Williams is the favourite to win a sixth singles title. Her sister Serena said she is probably the best grass-court player of their generation.
"Well, I think she's everyone's worry. You know, I think she has proven herself to be the best grass court player in our generation, so... Yeah," said last year's beaten women's finalist.
Coming back after nearly 10 months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova said she is going to take one match at the time.
"But, you know, I will take it one match at a time. This is definitely a time in my career where I can't look into possible third round, fourth round, you know, semis, whatever it is," the 22-year-old Russian said.
The Wimbledon Championships starts on Monday (June 21).
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