News from 25 week 2012 : 17 June 2012 to 23 June 2012

WIMBLEDON, England —

As Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer step back on the grass at Wimbledon, each has reason to believe he’ll be hoisting the trophy overhead in two weeks’ time.

None of the other 125 men in the field can honestly say the same.

Indeed, it’s tough to imagine anyone outside that trio winning this year’s championship at the All England Club, where play begins on Monday.

“They’ve, you know, been pretty selfish about Grand Slam titles for a little bit,” said 2003 U.S. Open champion and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick.

Either Nadal or Djokovic has won each of the past nine major tournaments, and they have met in the last four finals.

“It’s up to somebody … to break that mould,” said Federer, owner of a record 16 Grand Slam titles. “I hope I can do that.”

Add him to the equation, and those three men have combined to win 28 of the past 29 majors, a seven-year run of dominance that began with Nadal’s victory at the 2005 French Open. (The lone exception was the 2009 U.S. Open, where Federer lost in the final to Juan Martin del Potro.)

The top-seeded Djokovic is the defending champion at Wimbledon — and while it’s the only grass-court title on his resume, it’s a rather significant one.

“I mean, this is what I’m born for,” he said after beating Nadal in four sets in the 2011 final. “You know, I want to be a tennis champion. I want to win more Grand Slams. I will definitely not stop here.”

Nadal once was thought to be a clay-court expert but has shown that he can adapt to, and excel on, other surfaces, joining Federer among the seven men who completed a career Grand Slam. At Wimbledon, the Spaniard reached the final in each of the last five times he entered the tournament, winning twice and finishing runner-up to Djokovic or Federer.

And Federer? All he’s done is win six championships plus make one final at the All England Club in a seven-year span from 2003-09.

“I would just like to get another Wimbledon crown. It would be amazing to get No. 7,” said Federer, who lost in the quarterfinals to Tomas Berdych in 2010, and to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011.

He’s gone about 2 1/2 years without winning a Grand Slam title, his longest drought since he won his first nine years ago.

“The hunger is obviously big,” said Federer, approaching his 31st birthday on Aug. 8.

While players such as Berdych or Tsonga or Roddick or del Potro have shown they can compete with the best on their best days — and No. 4 Andy Murray, a three-time major finalist, gets plenty of home-crowd support because he represents Britain — the expectation is that Djokovic, Nadal or Federer will extend their hard-to-believe rule at Grand Slam tournaments.

Why has tennis’ top trio won major after major?

“Because they are too good,” Tsonga said. “That’s it. They’re just too good.”

EASTBOURNE, England —

Tamira Paszek of Austria fought off five match points to defeat fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the final at Eastbourne on Saturday.

It’s her first title since she won Quebec City late in 2010, and her victory comes after she won just two matches this year with 11 first-round defeats.

The unseeded Paszek battled back from a set and 4-0 down against defending champion Marion Bartoli in the semifinals, and she trailed Kerber 4-2 in the final set of their 2-hour, 45-minute final.

Kerber, who was chasing her third title of the year after winning the Paris Indoor and Copenhagen events, made a blistering start to the match, holding three break points for a 4-0 lead.

Paszek held off that threat and went on to level at 3-3 before Kerber broke again for the set.

Showing greater enthusiasm for battle than her opponent in the second set, Paszek levelled the match by breaking serve twice to set up a tense finale.

Kerber broke serve to lead the third set 4-2 and went on to hold five match points on Paszek’s serve at 5-3.

The Austrian fought off the challenge again but after slipping during the game she needed her right ankle strapped before continuing to play.

Kerber then failed to serve out the match at 5-4, and after Paszek held off a break point at 5-5 she clinched victory on her own third match point by breaking Kerber’s serve.

The men’s final was late Saturday between Andy Roddick and Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

WIMBLEDON, England —

For some perspective, consider what’s been going on in golf: WhenWebb Simpson won the U.S. Open last weekend, he was the ninth consecutive first-time major champion in that sport; he also was the 15th man to win one of the past 15 majors. That sort of parity does exist in tennis, too, but only in the women’s game, where six players divided up the most recent six Grand Slam titles, capped by Maria Sharapova’s triumph at the French Open.

That return to the top — and to No. 1 in the WTA rankings — makes her a popular pick to do well at Wimbledon, too. She did, after all, make her breakthrough at the grass-court tournament by winning it at age 17 in 2004.

There also are cases to be made for four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, who is sure to be intent on making up for a first-round loss at Roland Garros; defending champion Petra Kvitova; recent No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, a semifinalist a year ago; 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli; former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, probably the best player without a Grand Slam title; and even Venus Williams, who might be slowed by an autoimmune disease but still knows how to get the most out of her big serve and powerful groundstrokes at a tournament she’s won five times.

It’s much easier to come up with a lengthy list of contenders for the women’s title than it is for the men’s.

The Wimbledon draw was revealed on Friday and four Canadians earned direct acceptance into the singles draws, while Daniel Nestor and his partner Max Mirnyi are the top seeds in the men’s doubles draw.

Repersenting Canada in singles are Milos Raonic of Thornhill, ON, Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver, BC, Stephanie Dubois of Laval, QC, and Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, QC.

Raonic returns to Wimbledon one year removed from suffering a hip injury that kept him out for three months after he took a spill on the famed grass courts at the All-England Club in the second round. Seeded No. 21 in the tournament, he will take on Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in the first round.

Pospisil will meet American Sam Querrey for his first main draw match at Wimbledon. A win for both Canadians would mean they would meet in the second round.

In the women’s draw, Wozniak will face world No. 94 Vera Dushevina of Russia in her opening match. The two players met on grass in 2009 and it was Wozniak who came away with a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory.

For her part, Dubois drew No. 25 seed Zheng Jie of China in the opening round. Dubois lost in the first round last year to Andrea Petkovic.

Nestor and Mirnyi will open against the American pair of Michael Russell and Donald Young while Wozniak and her partner Simona Halep will play Yaroslava Shvedova and Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.

News from 25 week 2012 : 17 June 2012 to 23 June 2012