Nadal, Federer begin Wimbledon battle

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iol spt pic Nadal_federer REUTERS Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer are inching closed to a semi-final clash, when they headline the last 16 at Wimbledon. Photo: Danny Moloshok

London - World number one and two-time winner Rafael Nadal and seven-time champion Roger Federer begin their Wimbledon campaigns on Tuesday, desperate to banish the ghosts of 2013.

Nadal, seeded two this year, is fresh from a ninth French Open but were Paris has proved to be a home, sweet home for the Spaniard, Wimbledon has delivered just bitter-sweet memories.

His two titles of 2008 and 2010 must have seemed like ancient history when he crashed out in the second round in 2012.

Worse was to come in 2013 when he suffered a first ever opening round loss at a major at the hands of Steve Darcis, a Belgian journeyman who hasn't won a match since.

Nadal, seeking a 15th major, faces Martin Klizan of Slovakia, who took a set off the world number one in Paris last year.

I've said before this is really the most dangerous tournament of the year,” said Nadal.

“Here the courts are a little bit faster. The feeling on court is a little bit strange for everybody. Especially the top players who have more pressure.”

Federer, meanwhile, believes he's in the best shape to break a tie of seven Wimbledon titles he currently shares with Pete Sampras.

He was buoyed by a seventh Halle grasscourt crown last week, but is aware of the pitfalls of south-west London after losing to Ukraine's Sergey Stakhovksy in the second round 12 months ago.

“I feel like if things click here I should be able to win the tournament,” said Federer.

The 32-year-old Swiss faces Italy's Paolo Lorenzi, a man who has never won a match at the majors in his 13-year career.

With women's champion Marion Bartoli having retired, the 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki has the honour of opening Centre Court proceedings against Israel's Julia Glushko.

Top seed and world number one Serena Williams starts her campaign against Anna Tatishvili, the former Georgian player who has switched allegiance to the United States.

The 32-year-old Williams lost in the last-16 at the Australian Open and an embarrassing second round exit to Spain's Garbine Muguruza at the French Open.

“When I came here, I just felt a sense of being home. I really like being here,” said the American.

Maria Sharapova, who was champion as a 17-year-old in 2004, takes on British wildcard Samantha Murray looking to go further than last year when she was dumped out in the second round by Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher De Brito.


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