82° Good Afternoon
82° Good Afternoon

A Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal final at Wimbledon is on track

Switzerland's Roger Federer gives a thumbs up after

Switzerland's Roger Federer gives a thumbs up after winning his men's singles match against Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, on the fifth day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday. Credit: AP / Ben Curtis

WIMBLEDON — One of the greatest men’s finals in Wimbledon history was played 10 years ago, and it featured two very familiar faces. No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal vied for the championship here in what many consider one of the greatest tennis matches ever played.

Improbably, as the second week of the tournament opens on Monday, Federer and Nadal have the same seeds and remain on course for the final.

Asked on Saturday if he would like to recreate that matchup next Sunday in the men’s 2018 final, the 2008 winner declined.

“If I am in the final, I prefer to face an easier opponent,” Nadal said with a smile. “I am not stupid.”

It’s never too early to speculate, but with the first week of Wimbledon in the books, the paths to the semifinals and finals are starting to emerge in the men’s and women’s draws. Although the men’s side has lost some contenders in No. 3 seed Marin Cilic, No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 7 Dominic Thiem, there are some familiar faces like three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, the No. 12 seed who is coming back into form.

Federer said too many upsets can spook him in a Slam, but this feels different.

“I didn’t feel the effect this time,” Federer said. “In the past it has made me nervous when I’ve seen bigger guys go out. I feel like, ‘Okay, it’s me next time.’ It’s logic.”

Certainly the women’s draw has seen more disruption, and with it more opportunity.

Simona Halep was the ninth of the top 10 seeds to lose in the first week of the tournament. Of the seeds remaining, only three, Angelique Kerber, Jelena Ostapenko and Serena Williams have won a Grand Slam event. It’s a good place for a newcomer to crash the party, or for a veteran to break a record. If she won, Williams would have a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

“For me, I’m just looking from my rounds, every single day,” Kerber said. “You can just see how close it is. You have to be ready for every single round. Especially at the Grand Slams, you have to play your best tennis and go through it.”

No. 7 Karolina Pliskova appears to have a path to the final if she can beat No. 20 Kiki Bertens on Monday. Williams could emerge from the bottom quarter, while in the top half No. 11 Kerber has proven she can win a Grand Slam event with the two hard court slams in 2016.

But the most experienced champion is clearly Williams. She is still in the process of coming back into competitive form, and had to pull out of the French Open quarterfinal due to an injured pectoral muscle, but she has served very well on the grass and played her way out of tough spots. Her 24th Slam is in the wings, but Williams said she doesn’t have to rush it.

“There’s only a handful of people that can say that they don’t have to do anything else in their career,” Williams said. “Honestly, most people can say that because every day that we’re out here and we’re healthy, doesn’t matter if you won or if you didn’t, what we do for a living is a real blessing.”

New York Sports