Federer seeking golden seal in London
LONDON - With almost impeccable Swiss timing, Roger Federer has a last chance to fill the remaining spot in his bulging trophy cabinet on the court that witnessed the blooming of a tennis genius.
His beloved Wimbledon hosts the Olympic tennis tournament in a few weeks and at 30, and with a record 16 grand slam titles to his name, Federer knows time is running short.
The recent domination of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic has left Federer waiting for a 17th major since he won the Australian Open in 2010.
Only a fool would discount him from this year's grasscourt grand slam, a title he has won six times, but his best chance of glory on the lawns of south-west London might come a few weeks later at the Olympics.
From the moment he surprisingly lost to James Blake in the quarter-finals of the Beijing singles four years ago, Federer has been eyeing his shot at gold in London on Aug. 5.
Not that it has become an obsession.
With a wife Mirka, whom he met while competing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, two daughters, millions in the bank and an Olympic gold in doubles with friend Stan Wawrinka, Federer appears relaxed about his chances.
His on-court celebrations with Wawrinka in China, when both players rolled around hugging on the court, still bring a smile to his lips.
"I do feel less pressure...because I have won the Olympic gold in doubles already in Beijing with Stan, and that was an amazing feeling and made me very proud to do that for Switzerland," said Federer who cried after missing out on bronze at the Sydney Games and was knocked out in the second round by a then unknown Tomas Berdych in Athens 2004.
"I'm going to be super excited for the fourth time, but it is my fourth time so I think I'll be a bit more relaxed going into this Olympics," he said recently.
"But I don't feel like if I don't win this one, you know, it's a missed opportunity or whatever it is. I tried as hard as I could many times, particularly the last two, and I had a legitimate chance at winning the Olympic gold.
"It's going to be a great tournament. I want to enjoy it, not just crumble under pressure and just talk about that if I don't win.
"That's not how I see it. Any medal would be a good one, but obviously in my situation, I've got to aim for gold."
Some believe that tennis does not need the Olympics.
However, Nadal's joy at winning in Beijing proved how much the title meant to him and should Federer crown his career this year it could become one of the iconic images of the London Games.
Federer clearly believes Olympic recognition is good for tennis.
"Wimbledon actually helped the London bid get the Olympics, I think it was big, even though Wimbledon doesn't really need to be part of the Olympics, to be quite honest," he said.
"It's big for I think the game of tennis, looking ahead to the future Olympics, and for the players of this generation. I couldn't be more excited."
The format may well help Federer too.
Best of five sets against the top guns these days has become a tall order, even for a player whose level has remained incredibly high despite the rise of Nadal and Djokovic.
At the Olympics, a best-of-three-sets format is used until the final. Matches could be decided by a moment of magic, which Federer still has in abundance.
Federer has twice carried the Swiss flag at the opening ceremony and it would be a surprise if that were not to happen again. After all, he is Switzerland's greatest sportsman and, each summer in London, he has become almost royalty.