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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, June 22, 2021

 
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"To me it's just going to be very, very hard to do that," Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert said of Roger Federer returning to the Wimbledon final next month.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Murray mountain isn't the only major obstacle looming on Wimbledon's landscape.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer faces a monumental climb to return to The Championships final, says Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert.

More: Djokovic Hits with Son Stefan

In a conference call with the media today to promote ESPN's Wimbledon coverage that begins on Monday, June 28th at 6 a.m. Eastern time on ESPN, Evert and fellow former world No. 1 John McEnroe were asked to assess the 39-year-old Swiss' prospects at the grass-court Grand Slam.

Both Hall of Famers suggest SW19 is the most inviting setting for Federer to capture a men's record-extending 21st Grand Slam championship, but Evert says Federer is facing challenges on multiple fronts that make a final return a "monumental" ask.

Advancing age, lack of recent match play and Federer's admission he felt frustrated and suffered concentration lapses in the third set of his Halle loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime are among the issues the 2019 Wimbledon finalist faces, Evert says.

"I think it's going to be an uphill battle for Roger only because, like, when you watch that last match that he lost, he voices his sentiments that he was so disappointed that he had to take a couple hours to think about it, disappointed in himself," Evert said.



Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Evert said Federer and Serena Williams not only face the physical challenge posed by younger opponents, there's the mental stress and uncertainty of not knowing precisely how your body will respond match-to-match and the fact that delivering your best tennis can be an elusive task even for iconic champions.

"There gets a point where you wake up in the morning, you go out, even the will to win isn't enough. It's just not there," Evert told the media. "That's why I've said for the last four years about Serena, can she string together seven matches? People would look at me like, Why not?

"People don't understand. They think you're going to come out there every day and play your A game. That doesn't happen, especially when you play 20 years on the tour. In her case, 25 years. In Roger's case also. It's going to be really monumental, to me, if he could even reach the final. It's possible obviously. To me it's just going to be very, very hard to do that."

Since undergoing a pair of right knee surgeries in 2020, Federer has been limited to just eight matches this season and will arrive at SW19 with just two grass-court matches since he reached the 2019 Wimbledon final.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The eighth-ranked Swiss says he's been gaining information about his game and body and building toward this Wimbledon return. McEnroe suggests given his small sample of match play, Federer himself likely doesn't know how well his body will hold up during this fortnight, but believes the 20-time Grand Slam champion can make a second-week run if he's fit.

"I don't think he's worried about he lost second round in Halle as long as he's feeling good," McEnroe said. "The bottom line is, as Chrissie said about Serena, it's no question that Roger's best chance is here. I believe he's out of a handful of guys.

"Obviously Novak is a huge favorite. After that you would put him in the mix of the next five, six guys in my book still to make a run."

At the 2019 Wimbledon, a fearless Federer moved forward with conviction conquering archrival Rafael Nadal, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, soaring into his record-extending 12th Wimbledon final.

A defiant Novak Djokovic denied two championship points in the final set fighting off Federer, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) to successfully defend his Wimbledon title in The Championships' longest final—and first men’s major final decided in a fifth-set tie breaker.

It was a grueling defeat for Federer, who was bidding to beat Djokovic for the first time in a Grand Slam since the 2012 Wimbledon, become the oldest man to win a major in the Open Era and defeat rivals Nadal and Djokovic in the same Slam for the first time.

Given Nadal has opted out of Wimbledon and Djokovic may well be drained from out-dueling Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in succession to win his 19th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, you can make a case this Wimbledon is Federer's best opportunity to return to a major final.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The questions swirl as Federer prepares for his 22nd Wimbledon appearance and the answers will come as the tournament unfolds.

"It's the same issue Roger's got as Serena: how is the body going to hold up, can he go through seven matches. That's iffy," McEnroe said. "He looked fine in the French. He played a four-hour match, won that, then defaulted.

"It's hard to say how he was feeling that next day, if he could have gone if he had to go. These are questions that we don't know the answer to. But hopefully he'll go out on his terms."


ESPN 2021 Wimbledon TV Schedule

Date Time Event Network  
Monday, June 28 6 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. First Round ESPN, ESPN Deportes Live
  11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. First Round ESPN2 Live
Tuesday, June 29 6 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. First Round ESPN, ESPN Deportes Live
  11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. First Round ESPN2 Live
Wednesday, June 30 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Second Round ESPN, ESPN Deportes Live
Thursday, July 1 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Second Round ESPN, ESPN Deportes Live
Friday, July 2 6-11:30 a.m.; 6:35-8:50 a.m.; 10:05 a.m.-2 p.m. Third Round ESPN, ESPN Deportes Live
  11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Third Round ESPN2 Live
Saturday, July 3 7-8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  7:05-8:55 a.m. Third Round  ESPN Deportes Live
  8-11:30 a.m. Third Round ESPN Live
  10:15 a.m.-2 p.m. Third Round ESPN Deportes Live
  11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Third Round ESPN2 Live
  2-5 p.m. Third Round ESPN Live
Sunday, July 4 3-6 p.m. Highlights of Week One ABC Tape
Monday, July 5 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Round of 16 ESPN Deportes Live
  8 a.m.-4 p.m. Round of 16 Centre Court ESPN Live
  6 a.m.-4 p.m. Round of 16 Court No. 1 and other Courts ESPN2 Live
Tuesday, July 6 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Ladies Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN Live
  8 a.m.-4 p.m. Ladies Quarterfinals, Court No. 1 ESPN2 Live
  8-11:30 a.m. Ladies Quarterfinals ESPN Deportes Live
Wednesday, July 7 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Men's Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN Live
  8 a.m.-4 p.m. Men's Quarterfinals, Court No. 1 ESPN2 Live
  8 a.m.-1 p.m. Men's Quarterfinals ESPN Deportes Live
Thursday, July 8 7-8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  7:45-11:30 a.m. Ladies' Semifinals ESPN Deportes Live
  8 a.m.-1 p.m. Ladies' Semifinals ESPN Live
Friday, July 9 7-8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  7:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Men's Semifinals ESPN Deportes Live
  8 a.m.-2 p.m. Men's Semifinals ESPN Live
         
Saturday, July 10 8-9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8:45-11:30 a.m. Ladies' Championship ESPN Deportes Live
  9 a.m.-3 p.m. Ladies Championship ESPN Live
  9 a.m.-3 p.m. Men's Doubles Championship ESPN Live
  9 a.m.-3 p.m. Ladies Doubles Championship ESPN Live
  3-6 p.m. Ladies Championship ABC Encore
         
Sunday, July 11 8-9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Men's Championship ESPN Deportes Live
  9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Men's Championship ESPN Live
  9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mixed Doubles Championship ESPN Live
  3-6 p.m. Men's Championship ABC Encore

 

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