Roger Federer did not play tennis for the second half of 2016 after losing in the semi-finals of Wimbledon last July to Canadian Milos Raonic as he recovered from knee surgery. Even during his grand slam drought, Wimbledon always looked the most likely route for him to win his 18th major, and it was a surprise, even to him, that it actually came at Melbourne this year.
While the grasscourt comeback for the seven-time Wimbledon champion faltered in the first round at Stuttgart, losing to German veteran Tommy Haas, Federer was imperious on Sunday as he won a ninth Halle title without dropping a set all week.
■ Queen's-Wimbledon double: Murray, Nadal, Hewitt.
A fourth round run in 2014 represents his best recent effort.
The scary question for Murray, Djokovic, Nadal, Raonic and all the other contenders over the next two weeks then is just how good will a fully fit and rested Federer be on a surface he loves?
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Murray's preparations for the defence of his SW19 title were hit by a shock first-round defeat to world number 90 Jordan Thompson at Queens Club.
Defending champion Andy Murray has been named the top seed at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.
Short of grass court exposure, Murray headed to the luxurious surroundings of the Hurlingham Club in west London for an exhibition tournament. "For me, he's favorite with Federer but Federer won't have the confidence of coming in as French Open champion", Mats Wilander, three-times French Open champion and Eurosport host, told Reuters.
However, a third round loss to Sam Querrey set him on a slide which has been more or less constant ever since. But first of all, I have to play a final tomorrow'.
The 6-0 "bagel" handed to him in the third set by the young Austrian was the first time he had suffered such an indignity in 12 years. "It's a big challenge but I am up for it", said the 30-year-old Serb.