LONDON, England, July 27 – Roger Federer insists his Wimbledon triumph should serve as a warning to his Olympic rivals that age won’t be a barrier to his dream of winning a gold medal at the All England Club.
Federer is back at Wimbledon for the Olympics only three weeks after beating Andy Murray to clinch a record equalling seventh title at the grass-court Grand Slam, but the Swiss star’s thirst for success hasn’t 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 characterised 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.
And Federer believes his latest Wimbledon crown is extra special as it came at an age when most players his age 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 number one seed. It hasn’t been that way in some time,” Federer said ahead of Saturday’s opening day of the tournament.
“I always believed I would get back to number one. 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 number one 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 CV.
He won gold in the doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Games in Beijing, but Olympic singles gold is the one major individual honour 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, acknowledges his status as the Olympic favourite.
But he knows it could be potentially fatal to let his thoughts turn to another historic success at the All England 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 number one so if you put all those things together it could be that I’m the favourite.
“I’m coming back to a place where I have been able to win so often and that gives me incredible confidence.”
Federer’s path to golden glory looks relatively serene, with Spain’s David Ferrer and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro the most testing opponents lying in wait in his half of the draw.
In the final he could play second seed Djokovic, who opens against Italy’s Fabio Fognini, or third seed Murray, who starts his bid to erase the heartache of his tearful defeat against Federer with a clash against Wawrinka.