By Simon Cambers
LONDON (Reuters) – Tournament favorite Roger Federer will have to do things the hard way if he is to win a record eighth Wimbledon title, after he was handed the toughest draw of the big names at the All England Club on Friday.
But defending champion Andy Murray, struggling to reach 100 percent fitness because of a sore hip, was given a boost as he will avoid most of the more dangerous opponents in the first week.
The 35-year-old Federer, who is also trying to become the oldest winner in the open era, is the bookmakers’ favorite, having won the warm-up event in Halle last weekend.
To win his eighth title, though, he may have to beat Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, last year’s finalist Milos Raonic and three-times champion Novak Djokovic just to get to the final.
Speaking before the draw, former world number one Mats Wilander said Federer, who won his 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, had to watch out for some of the younger guns.
“I think Federer’s the favorite but there are a lot of young guys that are very fearless of the older guys these days,” he said.
“They don’t really have that intimidation factor with Kyrgios and Raonic and Zverev, they don’t really care about the best players, they just play their game, and if it works, it works.”
Murray looked to be walking with a limp after practice at Wimbledon on Friday, having missed two days of preparation because of the sore hip.
Beaten in the first round at Queen’s Club last week, the two-time champion will be thankful to be avoiding Raonic, Dimitrov, Zverev, Juan Martin Del Potro, Dominic Thiem and Feliciano Lopez, the Spaniard who won the Aegon Championships at London’s Queen’s Club last weekend.
The Scot will open his title defense against a qualifier on Monday and could play Dustin Brown of Germany in round two, with the big-hitting Nick Kyrgios a potential fourth-round opponent.
If he gets through that, Stan Wawrinka, who beat him to reach the French Open final earlier in the month, would be his likely seeded quarter-final opponent, followed by fourth seed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
Nadal, the winner in 2008 and 2010, has not been past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011 but will fancy his chances.
The Spaniard plays Australia’s John Millman, ranked 137, in the first round, with young Russian Karen Khachanov (30) his first seeded opponent in round three and seventh seed Marin Cilic a potential quarter-final foe.
Djokovic, the champion in 2011, 2014 and 2015 and looking to get back to his best after a loss of form, plays world number 44 Martin Klizan in round one.
The Serb could play Del Potro in the third round, Gael Monfils in round four and eighth seed Thiem, who ended Djokovic’s French Open title defense this month in the quarter-finals, again in the last eight.
(Editing by Andrew Roche)