For the fourth time in his career, Roger Federer had to handle being beaten by nemesis Rafael Nadal in the final of the French Open on Sunday, but there were plenty of positives for the world number three to take from the loss.
This was the closest that the 16-time Grand Slam winner had come to toppling the Spaniard at Roland Garros, and he was the better player for long spells – most notably the start of the match and in taking the third set after a rain delay.
Nadal rallied in the fourth to get his hands on his sixth French Open title and level Bjorn Borg’s record, however there were none of the tears that Federer let fly after Australian Open defeat to the world number one in 2009.
Instead, the Swiss legend was satisfied that he had played to the maximum of his ability and pushed the clay-court king to the limit, silencing those that suspected that his best days were behind him and that he was no longer a major threat.
The belief in the 29-year-old’s chances of being crowned a champion at a Grand Slam for the ninth straight year of his career is reflected in the fact that he is 5/2 to deliver at Wimbledon, breathing right down the neck of 9/4 favourite Nadal.
The price sees him fancied more than Novak Djokovic even though the Serbian would have topped the world rankings if Federer was victorious in Paris and despite Federer’s win over him on Friday being his first loss of 2011.
Djokovic is 11/4 to end Nadal and Federer’s eight-year reign of dominance at SW19, with his failure to get beyond the semi-finals in six previous attempts perhaps the reason why he is considered the third strongest contender.
Lleyton Hewitt is the only other former Wimbledon champion competing and the Australian veteran is a 100/1 long shot to relive his 2002 success.