from London Evening Standard
by Matt Majendie
Just before the start of his coaching relationship with Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer claimed his best chance of winning an 18th Grand Slam title would come at Wimbledon.
The evidence of the first week here would suggest a Grand Slam title may well be a reality for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2012. In three matches he has not dropped a set, and in all he has conceded just 23 games in that trio of matches.
Before Edberg became part of Team Federer, the Swiss former world No1 also admitted plans to return to the serve-and-volley aspect of his game that had helped him to seven Wimbledon titles but which had been much diminished in recent years.
It has been a noticeable part of his game in the opening three rounds. In his last-round victory over Santiago Giraldo, he won 15 of the 23 points he contested at the net.
Doing that successfully against Giraldo is a different ball game to the likes of Rafael Nadal potentially lying in wait in the semi-finals, but it is clearly something Federer has worked on closely with Edberg.
On the serve-and-volley approach, Edberg told Standard Sport: “I think he’s just got to find a way where he can maximise his chances of winning the title here, and I think he’s doing the right thing at the moment. It’s a mixture of things — serve and volley being just one of them. He’s done pretty well.”
Between them, serve and volleying has treated both well on Wimbledon’s hallowed turf, and Edberg used the play with much aplomb to win two of his six career Grand Slams at the All England Club.
But the clock has been ticking for Federer, who at 32 is no longer the irresistible force that used to sweep all asunder in days gone by. Prior to the 2012 Wimbledon win his last Grand Slam triumph was the Australian Open at the start of 2010.
Edberg, however, believes his player has the capability to change that record at the end of this week.
“If he can put everything together he can play his best,” said the Swede. “With a little bit of luck he has a chance this year. It’s just a very long way. It’s very tough but I feel it’s possible.”
The key to any major change in Federer’s fortunes this week, believes Edberg, is in his fitness. “Being injury free this year has obviously helped a lot. He’s played a lot of matches this year and played pretty good tennis. The lead-up to Wimbledon was very good, and winning in Halle last week was also very good.”
Clay-court specialist Tommy Robredo lies in wait in the next round, but he is unlikely to derail the Fed Express. However, the scheduling is against Federer in the second week after rain led organisers to delay the bottom half of the draw. As a result, he will have to play back-to-back matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Player and coach, since their partnership began back in January, have proved to be unflappable — and such an obstacle will hold little concern for the pair.
“We just talk about things,” says Edberg. “It’s more about what you can deal with and then how to improve your game at this stage. There’s always room for improvement even in someone like Roger, a great person on and off the court.”
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