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Wimbledon: Monday 23 June to Sunday 6 July
Coverage:
BBC TV, BBCi, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.


Roger Federer
Federer believes he is the favourite to lift the trophy again

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be aiming to end Roger Federer's reign at Wimbledon as the 2008 Championships get under way on Monday.

Federer wants a record sixth straight title, but French Open champion Nadal and Australian Open winner Djokovic are closing in on the world number one.

Andy Murray, who missed last year's tournament, is Britain's best hope and he opens up against Fabrice Santoro.

Venus Williams is chasing a fifth title after her surprise win last year.

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Tennis stars ready for action at SW19

But new world number one Ana Ivanovic, Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova and two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams will also be in the hunt.

As is traditional, defending men's champion Federer will open play on Centre Court on Monday against Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty.

Djokovic, Ivanovic and Serena Williams are among the other stars in action on the opening day while Murray, Nadal and Venus will play on Tuesday.

Forecasters are predicting warm and dry weather for the first five days.

Monday on Centre
FEDERER v Hrbaty
IVANOVIC v De Los Rios
DJOKOVIC v Berrer
Monday on Court 1
Kanepi v S WILLIAMS
HEWITT v Haase
Dancevic v NALBANDIAN

Federer, 26, has had a disappointing season by his standards, winning only two titles in a campaign disrupted by a bout of glandular fever, and some have suggested that his powers are on the wane.

His Australian Open crown was won by Serbia's world number three Djokovic while he was thrashed by Nadal in the final of the French Open.

But Federer's record on grass is superb: he has not lost a match on the surface since his first-round exit at Wimbledon at the hands of Croatia's Mario Ancic in 2002.

He secured his 59th successive grass court victory in claiming the Halle tournament last weekend and feels he is the title favourite at SW19 - despite some observers, including Bjorn Borg, tipping Nadal for victory.

"I feel like I'm the big favourite for Wimbledon," said the world number one.

"It's his (Borg's) opinion. It doesn't affect me much, but I'm surprised, let's put it that way.

"It's a huge year for me, going for my sixth. It's taken I don't know how many years for me to be able to match Borg's record of five.

"I hope I can also match Pete's record of seven Wimbledons. That's my focus."

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Nadal won his fourth straight French Open title with his demolition of Federer earlier this month and warmed up nicely for Wimbledon with his first grass court title in the Artois Championships last weekend.

The 22-year-old Spaniard defeated both Djokovic and American Andy Roddick on the way to victory at Queen's and Nadal says he is in confident mood going into Wimbledon.

"For sure Federer will have noticed (the Queen's victory)," said Nadal, who has reached the last two Wimbledon finals, coming very close to beating Federer in an five-set epic last summer.

"I think I'm playing well. And if I continue playing like this, I'm going to have chances for a good result. Why can't I win it?"

Djokovic made the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year and the 21-year-old says Federer may not have it all his own way this time.

"Things have changed this year," he said.

"It's becoming more interesting to see some new names, new faces winning the major titles, and believing more that they can win against the top players.

I do think I'm in the best shape that I've been in going into a slam

Andy Murray

"Roger is still number one. He had good results this year but not as good as in the past four or five years when he was really dominant."

Murray missed out at Wimbledon in 2007 because of injury and his preparations for this year's tournament were disrupted when he had to pull out of Queen's with a thumb problem.

The 21-year-old, who has never got past the fourth round at the All England Club, has recovered and will carry the hopes of the British crowd following the retirements of both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.

"The build-up to Wimbledon is difficult," he said. "But once you get on court, it's the last thing that you're thinking about and you get awesome support when you're out there.

"I do think I'm in the best shape that I've been in going into a slam."

Murray's brother Jamie, 22, will be defending the mixed doubles title he won with Serbian Jelena Jankovic but this time he will pair up with South African Liezel Huber. He and Max Mirnyi are the 12th seeds in the men's doubles.

In the women's draw, Ivanovic is one of the favourites after she took the world number one spot from Sharapova with her French Open victory.

The number one seed pulled out of this week's International Women's Open in Eastbourne because of a muscle injury but also admitted she needed a break after her Roland Garros campaign.

The 20-year-old reached the last four at Wimbledon last year and says she will have to up her game if she is to claim her second Grand Slam win.

Venus Williams
Wimbledon is the ultimate place to play your best tennis

Venus Williams

"Grass is a very specific surface. Everything is happening much faster," she said. "You have to be much more alert.

"I think I have very powerful shot, but there are some things I have to improve. I'm trying to come forward more, play some volleys, which is very helpful here."

Sharapova, winner at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, defeated Ivanovic in the Australian Open final at the start of the year.

The Russian reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2005 and 2006 while last year she lost to Venus Williams in the fourth round.

"Just because my game suits grass or just because I feel comfortable on it doesn't mean that a win is going to come easy," she said. "There are a lot of big competitors in the draw."

Venus Williams became the lowest seeded player to win Wimbledon when she collected her fourth title last year.

"I'm excited about playing on Tuesday at 1pm, that's always the ultimate honour in tennis," said Williams.

"I'm going to try to enjoy that moment and obviously bring my best tennis. Wimbledon is the ultimate place to play your best tennis. The most wonderful tournament to win would definitely be here."

The 28-year-old begins her campaign against Britain's Naomi Cavaday, who hails from Chislehurst in Kent.

"I don't know a ton about her," said Venus of her opponent, who is ranked 190 places below the American.

"I'm sure that she's playing good tennis."


see also
Nadal inspired by Woods triumph
21 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Hingis backs Ivanovic for title
20 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Rusedski on the 'big three'
18 Jun 08 |  Tennis
GB women battle for top spot
18 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Murray fit to play at Wimbledon
16 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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