LONDON • Tournament favourite Roger Federer will have to do things the hard way if he is to win a record eighth Wimbledon title, after the Swiss tennis legend was handed the toughest draw of the big names at the All England Club yesterday.
Defending champion Andy Murray, struggling to reach 100 per cent fitness because of a sore hip, was given a boost as he will avoid most of the dangerous opponents in the first week.
The 35-year-old Federer, who is also trying to become the oldest winner in the Open era, is the bookmakers' favourite, having won the warm-up event in Halle last weekend.
To win his eighth title, though, he may have to beat Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, last year's finalist Milos Raonic and three-time champion Novak Djokovic just to get to the final.
Murray looked to be walking with a limp after practice at Wimbledon yesterday, having missed two days of preparation because of the sore hip.
Beaten in the first round at Queen's Club last week, the two-time champion will open his title defence against a qualifier on Monday and could play Dustin Brown of Germany in round two, with the big-hitting Nick Kyrgios a potential fourth-round opponent.
If he gets through that, Stan Wawrinka, who beat him to reach the French Open final last month, would be his likely seeded quarter-final opponent, followed by fourth seed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
Nadal, the winner in 2008 and 2010, has not been past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011 but will fancy his chances.
The Spaniard plays Australia's John Millman, ranked 137th, in the first round, with young Russian Karen Khachanov (30) his first seeded opponent in the last 32 and seventh seed Marin Cilic a potential quarter-final foe.
Djokovic, the champion in 2011, 2014 and 2015 and looking to get back to his best after a loss of form, begins with world No. 44 Martin Klizan of Slovakia in round one.
The Serb could play Juan Martin del Potro in the third round, Gael Monfils in the last 16 and eighth seed Dominic Thiem, who ended Djokovic's French Open title defence in the quarter-finals, again in the last eight.
With defending champion Serena Williams and former champion Maria Sharapova both absent, the women's tournament is considered the most open in years.
Top seed Angelique Kerber, the runner-up to Williams last year, was drawn to face former French and US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.
Second seed Simona Halep, the French Open finalist, could face Johanna Konta, who is bidding to become Britain's first women's Grand Slam winner since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
Konta's participation, however, was thrown into doubt as she withdrew from her semi-final in Eastbourne yesterday against Czech Karolina Pliskova with a thoracic spine injury. The world No. 7 banged her head in a heavy fall in her quarter-final win over top seed Kerber on Thursday.
Konta was drawn to face Hsieh Su- wei in the first round in Wimbledon just weeks after the Chinese Taipei player defeated her in the first round at Roland Garros.
The other quarter-finals are likely to see Pliskova meet Caroline Wozniacki and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, who is battling a heel injury, playing Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.
Pliskova meets Dane Wozniacki in the Eastbourne final today.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
WTA EASTBOURNE INT'L
Final: StarHub Ch203, 7.15pm