Federer dismisses favourites tag ahead of Wimbledon tilt
Roger Federer has downplayed his favourite tag at Wimbledon and expects Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Murray to all be in contention at SW19.
The Swiss maestro's resurgent year on the ATP Tour, which has yielded an 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open, coupled with seven titles on the famous Wimbledon grass have seen Federer instilled as the man to beat.
By contrast, world number one and defending champion Murray arrives nursing a hip injury, Djokovic has endured an indifferent year on tour by his own remarkable standards, and Nadal has not gone beyond round four since losing the 2011 final.
However, Federer was keen to point out Murray's supreme record on grass throughout his career, while Djokovic triumphed in Eastbourne on Sunday and Nadal is riding high from a 10th French Open triumph last month.
"Well, I mean, depending on how fit he [Murray] is, if he's anything close to 100 per cent physically, I consider him one of the big favourites to win the tournament," Federer said.
"I think it's very even when we put it all out on the line. Everybody has their own little story right now. For me, everything that happened sort of before, Queen's for Andy, whatever, doesn't matter so much because I feel like Andy's one of the best players in the first week at Wimbledon, so I don't worry too much for him there. He can play himself into shape hopefully for week two.
"Novak is just coming back from winning Eastbourne now. Rafa is coming in red hot from the clay. So, I see it positive for them rather than negative in some shape, which I'm sure people will try to see that way. But I see that they are going to be tough to beat here."
No other player aside from the supposed 'big four' has triumphed at Wimbledon since 2004, but Federer expects a wide-open tournament.
"It's been very dominant by a few players here at Wimbledon, and in many of the other slams, too. European players have been in full force in I think the last hundred Masters 1000s, slams, Olympics, and also World Tour Finals," he added.
"That's surprising. It's like that, but can change tomorrow very quickly.
"I think that [Alexander] Zverev and [Nick] Kyrgios have shown what they can do, how good they can be. You know, the likes of [Milos] Raonic and [Kei] Nishikori and [Grigor] Dimitrov I think are in a good spot right now where, you know, they can go very deep and nobody would really be surprised.
"Away from those five players, I'm not sure how deep we're talking about. Are we talking about winning Wimbledon? That's going to be obviously a longshot.
"I'm sure I forgot a few, but I think those five we know what they can do. Then I think Dominic Thiem, I think he's got great power where he can go deep at any major at this point, even though grass is maybe not his most natural surface.
"I lost to him in Stuttgart last year. I was very impressed in how he was able to manage his game on the grass. I see some interesting stuff there from him.
"But then, you know, I do believe the favourites are the other players. I include the likes of [Marin] Cilic into that, Stan [Wawrinka], guys who have done it before.
"It should be an interesting Wimbledon - again."