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Safin awaits Federer in third round

Marat Safin looks set to present the first major obstacle to Roger Federer's bid to claim a fifth straight Wimbledon title.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2007 19:56 IST


Former US and Australian Open champion Marat Safin looks set to present the first major obstacle to Roger Federer's bid to claim a fifth straight Wimbledon title.

Friday's draw pitted Federer, bidding for a fifth straight title at the All England club, with Russia's Teimuraz Gabashvili.

The defending champion will not be expected to spend too much time on centre court compiling what would be his 29th consecutive victory at the All England club.

But he faces a potentially difficult encounter in the third round, where he could come up against the erratic but hugely-talented Safin.

The giant Russian has beaten Federer twice before although he trails 2-7 in career meetings with the Swiss star.

Rafael Nadal's bid to dethrone Federer faces a tough early test after the Spanish second-seed was drawn with experienced American Mardy Fish.

Fish has a good track record on grass having notably reached a final at the Nottingham Open in the past and could pose problems for French Open champion Nadal, who looked fatigued as he was beaten by unheralded Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the quarter-finals at Queen's last week.

Third-seed Andy Roddick, who has been placed in Federer's half of the draw, opens his campaign with an all-American meeting with Justin Gimelstob.

Fresh from winning his fourth title at Queen's, Roddick will be working with new coach Jimmy Connors for the first time at Wimbledon.

Lleyton Hewitt, the last man to win a men's singles title before Federer began his winning streak in 2002, will have been pleased by his draw.

The Australian starts against British wildcard Richard Bloomfield and will be confident of advancing to a possible fourth round meeting with fourth-seed Novak Djokovic.

Hopes of home success were dampened by tough draws for the top two Britons Andy Murray and Tim Henman.

Murray, who remains doubtful for the tournament because of a wrist injury, faces tricky Ecuadorian Nicolas Lapentti while Henman, with only two wins under his belt this year, will do extremely to get past former French Open champion Carlos Moya.

In the women's singles, defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France has a testing start to the defence of her title with a match against American Jamea Jackson, who can count a victory over Maria Sharapova as part of her record in grass.

Jackson beat the 2004 Wimbledon champion on her way to the final of the pre-Wimbledon tournament at Birmingham last year.

Top seed Justine Henin of Belgium will not expect to be unduly delayed by Argentinian qualifier Jorgelina Cravero in her opening match while Sharapova, seeded second, opens up against Taiwan's Chan Yung-Jan.

Henin is in the tougher half of the draw with two-time champion Serena Williams, who starts against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain, a possible quarter-final opponent.

Another all-Williams final is a possibility after three-times winner Venus was placed in the opposite half of the draw to her younger sister.

Venus Williams, the 23rd seed, faces Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia in the first round and could come up against Sharapova at the third round stage.

Jelena Jankovic, the third seed, opens up against British wild card Anne Keothavong, and is in the top-half of the draw along with Serena Williams and Henin.

First Published: Jun 22, 2007 19:06 IST

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