Federer : "anything is possible"

Eight-time champion Roger Federer begins his title pursuit on Tuesday, hoping to keep defying the odds.

Roger Federer Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Adored by every generation, Roger Federer still has that pull power.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has every head turn from ground staff, players and media when he strolls through The All England Club.

Last week the Swiss maestro returned to Wimbledon to gear up for his title tilt with a reunion with Andy Murray. A crowd gathered to witness a two of the modern greats in close quarters.

“It was very nice sharing the court again with Andy. We were trying to think when the last time was when we shared a practice court together. I thought it was the Australian Open in '05 or something. He thought it was maybe Rome in '06. We didn't do it for a long time,” stated the 39-year-old, after Murray edged their light-hearted set 6-5 on Court 14, before adding a subtle warning to his rivals.

“Clearly it's just practice, we're trying things. But I hope he can go deep here, have a nice run. Same for me. 

“I think we always back our chances on this surface.”

There is no denying recent Roland-Garros champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic is the hot favourite. For Federer, his match sharpness and fitness levels are still a slightly unknown quantity after a truncated campaign in Paris and an early exit in Halle.

It was the second round 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat by Felix Auger Aliassime in Germany which prompted a frank assessment in press afterwards, bemoaning his on-court attitude and drive.

“There's ways to lose and a standard I set for myself how I go about things. The good thing now looking back is I know it will not happen here because I'm ready, I'm excited, I'm pumped up. I know I can do so much better,” declared the 39-year-old, who endured two right knee surgeries in 2020. 

“If I look back at how many years this has not happened to me, I guess I can be very proud of myself. It reminds me more of the junior times in the beginning of my career where you remember me, where all of a sudden you just don't see the positivity any more. Maybe it's also part of the comeback. Very few fan situation.”

The eight-time Wimbledon champion is opening his campaign against world No.41 Adrian Mannarino, a very accomplished grass court player. Federer has never lost in their six previous duels, including a straight sets victory at Wimbledon 2018.

Regardless of form, talk of favourites and era-defining history on the line, Federer seems simply grateful to be back at SW19.

We’ve learnt over the years to never count out the 20-time Grand Slam champion and the 39-year-old fancies a deep run with some momentum built on those cherished lawns.

“I think I got to take the positives out of these last few weeks that I'm actually here at Wimbledon right now and I have a chance,” insisted the world No.8, last lifting the Wimbledon trophy in 2017 and falling to Djokovic in ‘that’ 2019 final. 

“I come here feeling mentally strong rather with the last set I played in Halle, which was clearly not the standard I like. 

“I know if I get rolling, I get into the second week, which is the goal here right now, that I get stronger and stronger as every match goes by, I believe it's very much possible.”

In pretty much every press conference Federer has questions relating to his age and longevity. The Swiss, who made his Wimbledon debut in 1999, never planned it this way.  

“I still feel a big privilege that I'm actually able to play Wimbledon. If I look back at everything that I went through for the last year and a bit more with the injury, also with the pandemic, it's great that Wimbledon is back on,” added Federer.

“The goal was not to play until 40. This all mainly came the last years. I never thought also with the last surgeries I've had I would still be going. 

“Look, I feel I still really love it, enjoy myself. I will see about the results, if they're going to come back. This is why Wimbledon is clearly very important to me right now.”