LONDON // Roger Federer says he is capable of surviving a nightmare draw at Wimbledon as the defending champion prepares to launch his bid for a record eighth title at the All England Club.
Federer arrives at the grass-court grand slam in the unusual position of being seen as the least likely of the world's elite players to leave with the title. His only championship this year was last week, on the grass at Halle, Germany.
To pass Pete Sampras as the most decorated All England Club champion, Federer potentially would have to defeat Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, Andy Murray in the semi-finals and Novak Djokovic in the final.
He is, however, the defending champion here, having defeated Murray in the 2012 final, his only grand slam title in his past 13 appearances in the game's four biggest tournaments.
"It was never supposed to be easy winning grand slams," he said Sunday. "I'm ready for the challenge. I like tough draws. I don't shy away from them. There's no control over it anyway. That's up to the draw to decide. I have a very difficult draw with Rafa being in my quarter. But my focus is on the first round. If you want to win the tournament here, you anyway have to beat the best. That's what I'm here for."
Nadal is seeded No 5, and some have criticised that placing, given his two championships here and his current fine form.
"There's been a lot of talk about where Rafa would be seeded," Federer said. "It's not even worth the talk because it is what it is. It's not like he's unseeded. He is seeded in the top eight, so you don't face him in the first round, and the quarter-finals are still a long way away."
Federer named Murray as the most likely champion from his three main rivals. Murray routed the Swiss to win the gold medal at the London Olympics and then ended his long wait for a first grand slam title by defeating Djokovic at the US Open.
"I think Murray played great last year throughout Wimbledon and the Olympics, and now again at Queen's," Federer said. "I would think he has less pressure now and he seems like maybe most natural on this surface.
"The other guys, Rafa and Novak, are already Wimbledon champions. But to me Andy sort of stands out a little bit over the others."
Federer's first Wimbledon title was over Mark Philippoussis, 10 years ago.
"It's been an unbelievable 10 years," he said. "I'm forever grateful for the first Wimbledon title. The first time I was able to lift up the trophy, this is when the dream began of having an amazing career.
"It's all happened a bit too fast for my liking, but I'm happy I'm still contending for the title."
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