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Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 13:26 UK

Rusedski on the 'big three'

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

The battle for the men's singles title at Wimbledon is one of the most eagerly anticipated in years, with five-times winner Roger Federer facing a huge challenge to hold on to his crown from Spain's Rafael Nadal and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

Federer has been out of sorts since contracting a virus at the turn of the year and he has seen Nadal and Djokovic go on to win title after title.

It's set to be an intriguing battle between the top three in men's tennis.

Greg Rusedski
Former US Open finalist and BBC commentator Greg Rusedski analyses their strengths, weaknesses and chances of glory at the All England Club.

ROGER FEDERER

FOR WINNING WIMBLEDON

"Many people are writing off Roger Federer but putting it simply he hasn't lost for 59 matches on grass.

"This year he has lost it a fraction, but that's only up against the high standards he has set himself over the last three years. For any other top-five player he would be having a tremendous year.

"Wimbledon will be the true test to see whether he can edge within one title of equalling Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams.

Roger Federer
Federer is aiming to win a record sixth Wimbledon title
"I think he has to win Wimbledon or the US Open this year to confirm whether he is going to be seen as the greatest player of all time."

AGAINST WINNING WIMBLEDON

"At the start of the season he had mononucleosis which is a fair enough excuse for his form as it's very debilitating.

"The worrying thing for me was when I saw him play Novak Djokovic in Australia before he knew he had glandular fever and he was very nervous, and that is very un-Federer like.

"And his losses against Mardy Fish in Indian Wells and Radek Stepanek in Rome were not a good sign.

"Players now believe they can beat him and his matches are going to become more difficult.

"He will still beat those sort of players over five sets but it will be harder now as everyone will step out on court thinking they have a chance, whereas over the last three years most players had already lost before they went out there."

RAFAEL NADAL

FOR

"I'm impressed with how physically strong he is. He has just won the French Open yet he still continued to keep his high standard of play up day in, day out at Queen's.

"To concentrate for so long is extremely difficult. He has this incredible drive.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has lost to Federer in the last two Wimbledon finals
"He is the best number two in the world that's never been number one and his drive is to top the rankings and that will mean winning Wimbledon titles.

"He is stronger than last year and all facets of his game have improved; he's improved his sliced backhand, improved his return of serve, stepping in, and his serve is better."

AGAINST

"It's pretty hard to find many minuses for Rafa as everything points in his favour.

"Grass these days is slower, it's not serve-and-volley tennis any more, the courts are harder, the ball bounce is cleaner and he has no problems with his movement.

606: DEBATE
srmgin

"The only thing I'd say was a weakness is sometimes he doesn't punch through his volleys enough and occasionally he is a little tentative with them."

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

FOR

"Mentally he is fantastically strong. His record at the Slams since the Australian Open in 2007 has been remarkable. He has just got better and better, a semi-final at Roland Garros, semi at Wimbledon, final of the US Open, a win in Australia and the semi at Roland Garros again.

Novak Djokovic
Djokovic won his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open this year
"And I like the way he talks about his game with comments like, 'I expect to do better'.

"Maybe this Wimbledon is a year too soon, but at the pace he is going he could do it. I personally don't see him winning just yet but he likes proving us all wrong."

AGAINST

"For me the key is I don't think Djokovic moves well enough on grass yet.

"That's the only question I have about his chances. If you look at all the other surfaces he moves exceptionally well, but on the grass he just doesn't look as happy.

"Last year at Wimbledon he won a lot of five-set matches and by the time he got to play Nadal he just ran out of gas.

"If he can get himself comfortable enough, mentally there is no question he is strong enough and will be a future world number one at the pace he is going."

RUSEDSKI'S VERDICT

"I think NADAL is seriously ready to win the men's singles title at the Wimbledon Championships and has to be the slight favourite going into the tournament.

"I would like to see Federer face Djokovic in his semi so, if Nadal's fresh without the tough schedule he had last year, he can go all the way as he really is the real deal."


Greg Rusedski was talking to Paul Birch


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