Former world number one Roger Federer's last competitive match in 2016 was a semifinal loss to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon last year. Nonetheless, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion did not play a competitive match until the Australian Open this year, in order to rehabilitate a knee injury. The Swiss maestro has improved his backhand, which has been a devastating weapon in 2017, and he will be looking to win a record eighth Wimbledon singles title.
Notable results to date
Federer boasts a 24-2 win-loss record in 2017, and he made his return to competitive tennis at the Australian Open. The former world number one was seeded 17th, and he had a monster draw to go through. Federer needed four sets to dispatch former Grand Slam semifinalist Jurgen Melzer in the first round in his first match back in six months, and he defeated Noah Rubin in the second round in straight sets. The 35-year-old dismantled Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the third round, but he had a five-set encounter with 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in the fourth round. The four-time Australian Open champion was victorious and he was due to play against world number one Andy Murray in the quarterfinals but he lost to Mischa Zverev. Federer ended Zverev's dream run as he eased past the German to reach the semifinals. In the semifinals, the former world number one was up against compatriot and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka. It was another five-set thriller which tested Federer's knee and the veteran came through, 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 to reach his sixth final in Melbourne. The former world number one defeated his eternal rival and 2009 winner Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to win his fifth Australian Open title, and first Slam since Wimbledon in 2012.
After winning the Australian Open, Federer suffered a shocking second-round loss in Dubai to Evgeny Donskoy in three sets, despite holding a match point. It was a slight blip as Federer returned to the North American hardcourt scene at the back-to-back Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami. The former world number one claimed his 90th career title in the Californian Desert without a loss of a set. He dispatched Stephane Robert and Steve Johnson in the first two rounds. Federer thrashed Nadal in the fourth round, which was the first time he defeated the Spaniard in three successive encounters. He gained a walkover into the semifinals as Nick Kyrgios was unable to compete in the quarterfinals due to illness. The world number five defeated Jack Sock in the semifinals and compatriot Wawrinka, 6-4, 7-5 in the final.
Federer was tested more at the Miami Open beginning with his opening match against Frances Tiafoe. The Swiss maestro defeated the American in straight sets and he had a tough third round clash on paper with 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. Federer defeated the Argentine to reach the fourth round. The 35-year-old needed two tiebreaks to send Roberto Bautista Agut packing and reach the quarterfinals. He saved multiple match points against Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals to win the match in three sets. He was due to face Kyrgios the week before in Indian Wells but the Australian withdrew due to illness. The Miami crowd were treated to a special match as three close tiebreakers decided the match with Federer coming out on top by reaching his third final of the year. Once again, he was up against Nadal, and he defeated the Spaniard, 6-3, 6-4 to win his 91st career title.
Grass results leading up to Wimbledon
The 18-time Grand Slam champion opted to skip the entire clay court campaign in order to rest from a gruelling hard court schedule and prepare for Wimbledon. In his first match back in two months, the 35-year-old lost to his good friend Tommy Haas in what could have been their last encounter. It was Federer's second loss of the year and the second time that he failed to convert a match point. Nevertheless, the seven-time Wimbledon champion rebounded perfectly at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. He didn't drop a set and he won a record-extending ninth title at the ATP 500 level event by defeating the likes of Yuichi Sugita in the first round. He dispatched Mischa Zverev in the second round, the defending champion Florian Mayer in the quarterfinals, Karen Khachanov in the last four and the younger Zverev brother, Zverev in the final.
Best Wimbledon result
The former world number one is one of the greatest grass court players to ever grace the hallowed turfs of Wimbledon. Seven of Federer's 18 Grand Slam singles titles have come at Wimbledon, which is a joint-record with Pete Sampras. Federer also has reached the most Wimbledon finals in the Open Era with ten appearances which is a sensational record.
Federer won his first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2003 as the fourth seed when he defeated Mark Philippoussis in straight sets. The Swiss maestro would go on to win four more titles at SW19 in succession by defeating Andy Roddick in 2004 and 2005, and Nadal in 2006 and 2007.
However, his run as the five-time defending champion came to a halt in 2008 when he lost to Nadal in arguably the greatest tennis match of all time. A year later in 2009, Federer would claim his sixth crown at SW19 as he defeated Roddick for the third time in six years in finals at Wimbledon. The former world number one's seventh triumph at Wimbledon came in 2012 when he defeated future two-time champion Andy Murray in four sets. It was Federer's first Slam triumph in two years since he won the Australian Open in 2010, and up until he won the title in Melbourne this year it was his latest Slam.
Federer lost two more finals in 2014 and 2015 to Novak Djokovic and he lost to Milos Raonic in five sets in the semifinals last year.
How Federer's game translates to grass
The 18-time Grand Slam champion's game is tailor made for grass as his serve works well on this surface as he gets a lot of aces on this surface, and he is an exceptional volleyer on grass. The points are a lot shorter on grass which is key for Federer as the 35-year-old will not want to participate in longer rallies at this stage of his career. The world number five is a fine returner on grass, and with his improved backhand, it will be a deadly weapon at Wimbledon this year.
With Murray and Djokovic failing to make an impression in 2017, and it remains to be seen if Nadal can make a long run at Wimbledon, Federer is in prime position to pull away from Nadal, and win his 19th Slam title, and the eighth title at SW19. Despite being ranked at five in the world, he will be seeded third due to his past performances on grass being better than Nadal's.