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Is Fed Express running out of steam?

sports Updated: Aug 06, 2008 19:09 IST
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Roger Federer will celebrate his 27th birthday by carrying Switzerland's flag at the Olympic opening ceremony. He has little else to cheer about right now.

Win or lose in Beijing, Federer's record 235 weeks as number one will end the day after the tennis final, with arch-rival Rafael Nadal set to top the rankings on Monday, August 18.

And there are signs that after Nadal ended Federer's five-year Wimbledon reign, and humiliated him in the French Open final, it is all getting a bit much for a man often billed as the greatest player in the history of tennis.

The usually suave ace glowered at reporters and refused questions after a strenuous two-hour practice session in Beijing on Tuesday at a sweltering Olympic Green Tennis Centre.

Perhaps the Centre Court scoreboard carrying his name alongside Tomas Berdych, his second-round nemesis at the 2004 Games, did not help his mood.

Whatever the reason, the smooth-talking Swiss has maintained a deafening silence on Nadal's coronation as the new number one.

"I don't care," he pouted last week, when asked if he would follow the Spaniard's all-important progress at the Cincinnati Masters.

The contrast between the two camps could not be more striking as Nadal joked with Ana Ivanovic and Tommy Robredo at Olympic Green while Federer stalked off to the showers.

World number 10 Stanislas Wawrinka said he did not discuss Federer's demotion during their hit-out in Beijing, but revealed his compatriot was determined to get back on top.

"He wants to improve and to get back to number one," Wawrinka said.