When a young Roger Federer defeated Pete Sampras in the fourth round of the 2001 Wimbledon Championship, many were of the opinion that Federer was the rightful heir to Sampras on grass. His prediction did not go wrong, as the Swiss master managed to cross Sampras' record of seven Wimbledon titles when he defeated Marin Cilic in 2017.
Four years later, the Swiss star faced a young Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of the Halle Open, a mandatory event before Wimbledon on grass for Federer. While Federer was expected to knock the Canadian down both from the baseline and at the net, Auger-Aliassime denied the Swiss master that opportunity.
Instead, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was defeated by Felix in three sets 4-6,6-3,6-2. In a year in which the Swiss star played just eight games on the tour before Wimbledon, the chances of clinching his favorite Grand Slam trophy are dwindling.
Although a sample size of 8 matches is too small to draw conclusions, it will be a difficult Wimbledon for Federer as he battles recovery and stiff competition from other players. So what are Federer's chances of winning his 21st major title at Wimbledon? Expecting a 2017-like comeback from Roger Federer might not be practical.After undergoing two knee surgeries last year, the path to glory has been the most difficult for Federer as he faces different challenges this year.
Expecting or comparing this return to 2017 is not good. Four years ago, the men's singles draw still revolved around big names like Nadal, del Potro and others. Youngsters like Zverev, Tsitsipas and Medvedev have yet to prove themselves on the ATP tour.
This allowed Federer to surpass players like Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych, etc. As he has already played against them, the 20-time Grand Slam champion used his experience to obtain victories. Now, the scene on the ATP tour has completely changed.
Although Nadal and Djokovic are still winning grand slams, the younger players are dominating various Masters 1000 and 500 tournaments.
Federer on the tennis schedule in 2020
Roger Federer pointed to the uncertainty of the tennis schedule in 2020 and said he was "shocked" at Wimbledon's cancelation.
"Last year everything happened very quickly," said Roger Federer. "After Indian Wells cancellation we were all trying to understand how the situation would evolve. Few weeks later Wimbledon was canceled and we were shocked, but we know the reason of course."
A lot of next-gen players like Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitispas and Felix Auger-Aliassime have proved over the past couple of years that they are comfortable playing on clay rather than grass. While a top player is expected to adapt to all the three surfaces to become legendary, these young guns are yet to make their mark on Wimbledon courts.
As a result of their early-round exits in SW19 over the past few years, Roger Federer needn’t be vary of competition from next-gen players. However, arch-rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will always pose a threat to the Swiss Maestro.