Minutes after his quarterfinal exit at the French Open, Roger Federer was asked whether it was too early to look ahead to Wimbledon.
“No,” Federer replied, “it’s never too early.”
“I’m already thinking what I’m going to do the next few days, because Wimbledon is going to be a big goal for the season,” he continued. “That’s where I want to play my best.”
Federer has won a record-tying seven titles on the grass of the All England Club, part of his overall haul of 17 Grand Slam trophies. He hasn’t won a major championship in three years, though, since Wimbledon in 2012.
Federer, who turns 34 in August, lost in last year’s final to Novak Djokovic and knows full well that the best and most likely place for him to add to his Grand Slam collection is Wimbledon. He is capable of being nearly as dangerous as ever, especially with a more aggressive, net-charging approach under coach Stefan Edberg.
A handful of men can be considered true title contenders — No. 1-ranked Djokovic, of course, along with 2013 champion Andy Murray — and Federer puts himself in that group.
“I want to win it,” Federer said about Wimbledon, “and I feel like my game is good. It’s been solid. It’s been positive, and I have just got to keep it up now.”
Here are other things to know about Wimbledon, the grass-court Grand Slam tournament that begins Monday:
NADAL NOT ‘QUITE RIGHT’
For a guy who’s won Wimbledon twice and 14 major trophies in all, Rafael Nadal does not appear ready to make a deep run. His ranking of No. 10 is his worst in a decade, and he lost his opening match at the Queen’s Club warmup event. “There’s something that doesn’t seem quite right,” said John McEnroe, a seven-time major champion and ESPN analyst, “but I couldn’t pinpoint it.”
HERE COME THE KIDS
At Wimbledon a year ago, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic made their Grand Slam semifinal debuts. Which of the younger set in men’s tennis might make a statement this fortnight? There’s a trio of talented Australians, all 22 or under — Nick Kyrgios (who beat Rafael Nadal at the All England Club in 2014), Bernard Tomic (a quarterfinalist in 2011), and Thanasi Kokkinakis — and others such as Jack Sock of the U.S., Dominic Thiem of Austria, and Borna Coric of Croatia.
WHO CAN STOP SERENA?
Serena Williams will be aiming for her fourth consecutive major title and the third leg of a true Grand Slam. Can anyone stop her? She hasn’t made it past the fourth round at the All England Club since 2012, so other contenders can take hope from that. Maria Sharapova, whose first major title came at Wimbledon in 2004, knows she can succeed on grass, but it’s sure been a while. Sabine Lisicki is dangerous as can be on grass — she hit a record 27 aces in a recent match — but doesn’t have much in the way of second-week Grand Slam experience. Petra Kvitova won her second Wimbledon championship last year, but she pulled out of her usual warmup tournament because of illness.
Last year, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard appeared to be on her way to becoming tennis’ next big thing, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open, then the final at Wimbledon. Nothing’s come easily in 2015, however, including a stretch where she lost 10 of 11 matches, and she pulled out of a warmup tournament Thursday, citing a stomach muscle injury.