Yes, Roger Federer went out pretty meekly in the French Open semifinals to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic just a few weeks ago. But there are many reasons to believe that won't be the case when the two meet again in the 2012 Wimbledon Championships tomorrow.
The six-time Wimbledon champion did not look like himself throughout most of the French Open. He lost sets to the likes of Nicholas Mahut and David Goffin, and got bailed out in the quarterfinals by an injury to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer's run in London hasn't been all that smooth either, but he will carry some good momentum from his quarterfinal domination over Mikhail Youzhny into the semis. The most important factor is that his back looked healthy in that match and all systems should be a go against the defending champion Djokovic.
Federer and Djokovic have never played on grass before, which poses as an interesting factor. Federer is one of the best grass-court players of all time, but Djokovic did come away victorious at last year's Wimbledon tournament.
But the form of the Swiss Maestro or the court surface are only minor positives for Federer heading into the business end of these championships. The biggest thing is that his long-time nemesis, Rafael Nadal, is not lurking on the other side of the draw.
Djokovic has been able to get the best of Federer in four out of their last five grand slam meetings, but Federer had big leads and match points in the 2010 and 2011 US Open losses to Djokovic.
In both of those situations, Nadal was already waiting to play the winner in the finals. There's no question that weighed on the mind of Federer as he tried to close out the Serbian star in the semis, and the sport of tennis can be just as mental as it is physical.
Now that Federer is up there in age, it would be a daunting task to beat his two younger rivals in back to back five-set matches to claim another major championship. He only has to beat one of them to be victorious at Wimbledon this year, giving him his best chance at a major since winning the 2010 Australian Open.
With Nadal being knocked out early, the winner of the Djokovic/Federer match would be the favorite heading into Sunday's final.
Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga aren't exactly slouches, as they have each reached grand slam finals. But both are a far cry from Nadal, an 11-time grand slam singles champion and a man who has won 8 out of 10 grand slam meetings over Federer.
If he didn't have enough motivation already, Federer would also regain the No. 1 ranking if he won Wimbledon. He trails Pete Sampras by just one week for the most weeks ranked number one over a career.
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