Federer to start Wimbledon campaign against Lajovic

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London, June 30 (IANS) Defending champion Roger Federer will begin his quest for a record extending ninth Wimbledon title when he takes on Dusan Lajovic in first-round action on Monday.

The 36-year-old Swiss top seed and world No. 2, who defeated that Serbian player en route to winning last year’s title, could later face two dangerous Croatians in his half of the draw, reports EFE news agency.

Sixteenth-seeded Borna Coric, who upset Federer to win last week’s Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, is a potential fourth-round opponent, while third-seeded Marin Cilic, last year’s runner-up, looms as a possible threat in the semi-finals.

Spanish second seed and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal also learned his first round opponent at Friday morning’s draw ceremony at the All England Club: Israel’s Dudi Sela.

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The 32-year-old two-time champion, who has not reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since 2011, has several potentially dangerous rivals in his section of the draw.

Germany’s Mischa Zverev, one of tennis’ few serve-and-volley practitioners, could be Nadal’s third-round opponent.

Should Nadal make it to the final eight of this grass-court Grand Slam, potential obstacles include big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro or Scottish two-time champion Andy Murray.

A berth in the semi-finals could mean a match-up against 12th-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion; big-hitting Australian Nick Kyrgios; or third-ranked German Alexander Zverev.

In the women’s singles, Spanish defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza will kick off her quest for a second Wimbledon title against Naomi Broady of the United Kingdom.

Muguruza has been slotted into the same half of the draw as Romanian world No. 1 and top seed Simona Halep, Russian No. 24 seed and 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova and eighth-seeded Czech and Petra Kvitova, a two-time champion at the All England Club.

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But the earliest she could face any of those three would be the semi-finals.

The other half of the draw has perhaps the most intriguing player in this year’s Wimbledon, American great Serena Williams, who has won this tournament seven times but has only played a handful of events since returning from maternity leave.

Despite being ranked No. 183, she has been seeded No. 25 by tournament organizers in recognition of all of her past success.

Some of her toughest rivals in the bottom half of the draw include her older sister Venus Williams, the No. 9 seed and last year’s runner-up; fourth-seeded American Sloane Stephens; 10th-seeded American Madison Keys; seventh-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova; and second-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki.

Williams can equal Australian legend Margaret Court’s record tally of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by winning this year’s Wimbledon, which runs from July 2 to July 15.

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–IANS

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