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Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 15:36 UK

Federer the man to beat - Rafter

Date: 22 June - 5 July
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, website streaming (UK only) and text commentary, BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Live Sports Extra

By Sam Lyon

Roger Federer
Federer is targeting a sixth crown at Wimbledon in seven years this summer

Roger Federer remains the man to beat at Wimbledon, despite "not being the player he was", says former SW19 finalist Pat Rafter.

World number two Federer, fresh from a maiden triumph at the French Open, will be looking to win back the title he lost to Spain's Rafael Nadal last year.

And Rafter told BBC Sport: "Federer is my tip to win but, saying that, he is not the player he was two years ago.

"He is hanging in there, trying to win another Slam and he loves Wimbledon."

Federer's success at Roland Garros ended the world number two's long wait to win the clay-court event and made him only the sixth man to win all four Grand Slams.

Coming on the back of his victory over Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open - also on clay - led some commentators to hint the Swiss is on his way back to the top of his game, having been knocked off the number one perch by his Spanish rival last year.

Those two have shared all but two Grand Slams between them for over four years.


But two-time US Open champion Rafter insists it is only a matter of time before one of the emerging talents in the game, led by British number one Andy Murray, ends the pair's Slams supremacy.

"It's one of those things that someone will be ready sooner or later, and it will be interesting to see when that time comes for Andy," said the 36-year-old Australian.

"Right now, purely on reputation, Andy is just below Federer and Nadal. He may not totally have matured just yet and to win a Grand Slam you have to have absolute belief. Federer and Nadal have it, but does Andy?

"Whether it is this year or not, though, I'm sure somewhere in his career he'll win a couple of Grand Slams."

Nadal's epic five-set victory over Federer in last year's Wimbledon final ended the Swiss's five-year winning streak on Centre Court.

Pat Rafter
It will be interesting to see what his preparation is going to be like because, obviously, it will be very light; how will his knees hold up?

Pat Rafter

However, the Spaniard has struggled recently, despite winning the Australian Open in January.

He lost to Federer in the final of the Madrid Open, crashed out of the French Open at the fourth-round stage to Robin Soderling - his first ever defeat at Roland Garros - before pulling out of last week's Queen's tournament with knee trouble.

He has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation in a bid to be fit to defend his Wimbledon title since, but Rafter says the tournament could come around too soon for the world number one.

"We saw Rafael really struggle at the French Open - he never looked good from the get go," he said.

"It will be interesting to see what his preparation is going to be like because, obviously, it will be very light; how will his knees hold up?"

And could someone spring a surprise at this year's tournament?

"For me, you've got to have the top three in the world - Federer, Nadal and Murray - as clear favourites," said Rafter, a Wimbledon men's singles runner-up twice, losing to Pete Sampras in 2000 and then Goran Ivanisevic the following year in a epic five-set encounter.

"Outside of that you've got to look at someone like Andy Roddick to cause some upsets and maybe be there at the end.

"The guys you don't want to see anywhere near your section are the big serving Croatians.

"Novak Djokovic is another one who wants some sort of confirmation that he has another Grand Slam in him... but Federer is my favourite to win it at this stage."

Pat Rafter will compete in The Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London, 1-6 December, 2009 alongside former Wimbledon winners Goran Ivanisevic and Stefan Edberg.

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see also
Murray plays down Wimbledon hype
15 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Classy Murray wins Queen's title
14 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Nadal stays calm after shock loss
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Champion Nadal falls to Soderling
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Nadal v Federer - The best final?
07 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Pat Rafter Q&A
03 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Rafter rules out return
08 Jan 04 |  Tennis
Rafter 'flat' after final
09 Jul 01 |  Wimbledon 2001
Classic Matches: Ivanisevic v Rafter
31 May 04 |  History
Where does Pat Rafter rank?
10 Jan 03 |  Sports Talk

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Brunei Times Federer eyes Wimbledon history - 4 hrs ago
Nigeria Guardian Rafter tips Federer for Wimbledon glory - 7 hrs ago
Manila Times Federer seeking Grand Slam record - 14 hrs ago
Mid Day Recharged Federer eyes Wimbledon history - 21 hrs ago
People's Daily Online Revitalised Federer targets Wimbledon trophy - 28 hrs ago


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