Sat, Jul 28, 2012 - Page 18 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Age no barrier to Federer’s dream

AFP, LONDON

Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei trains for the Olympics tennis tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London, England, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Roger Federer insists his Wimbledon triumph should serve as a warning to his Olympic rivals that age will not be a barrier to his dream of winning a gold medal at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Federer is back at Wimbledon for the Olympics only three weeks after beating Andy Murray to clinch a record-equaling seventh title at the grass-court Grand Slam, but the Swiss star’s thirst for success has not been quenched just yet.

After ending his two-year drought at the majors and returning to the top of the world rankings, Federer once again radiates the supreme confidence that characterized his lengthy spell as the sport’s dominant force.

He has silenced the critics who claimed the 30-year-old was a fading force who was more focused on his young family than working to combat the twin threat posed by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Federer believes his latest Wimbledon crown is extra special as it came at an age when most players have already retired and in an era when Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray, all three significantly younger than him, have provided intense competition for the top prizes.

“Winning Wimbledon has definitely sunk in now, especially when I look at the draw here and see I’m the No. 1 seed. It hasn’t been that way in some time,” Federer said ahead of today’s opening day of the tournament. “I always believed I would get back to No. 1. I knew my game was strong. I had a couple of tough losses last year that stopped me going further and maybe get back to No. 1 earlier, but the good thing is I never gave up and started to play better, especially at Wimbledon when the pressure was so high. It’s a dream come true and I’m happy I was able to do it because Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are in their prime. I shouldn’t be normally at my age.”

Now Federer can cap one of the best months of his illustrious career by adding a sprinkling of gold to his already glittering resume.

He won gold in the doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Games in Beijing, but Olympic singles gold is the one major individual honor to have eluded Federer, with his best performance coming in Sydney in 2000, when he finished fourth.

With Nadal ruled out with knee problems, Federer, who faces Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in the first round, acknowledged his status as the Olympic favorite, but he knows it could be potentially fatal to let his thoughts turn to another historic success at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, especially in an event with a best-of-three-sets format that can punish even short lapses in concentration.

“I always thought when I played the Olympics at Wimbledon I would feel incredible pressure, but thinking about it I don’t have much pressure because I already have a gold medal,” Federer said. “I know it was the doubles and not the singles, but nobody can take that away from me and Stan. The margins are a lot tighter in this event. A bad five minutes or a couple of points can cost you the tournament. In this format I would have gone out of Wimbledon against [Julien] Benneteau because I was two sets to love down. I’m aware of that, but winning Wimbledon has been a big help to my confidence.”

“I played great and I was able to beat Novak. I’m back at world No. 1, so if you put all those things together it could be that I’m the favorite,” he said. “I’m coming back to a place where I have been able to win so often and that gives me incredible confidence.”

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