Federer Has Easy Path To Fifth Wimbledon Title

Friday, June 22nd 2007, 7:33 am
By: News On 6

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Four-time defending champion Roger Federer will face 85th-ranked Teimuraz Gabashvili in the first round of Wimbledon.

Top-seeded Justine Henin looks to complete a career Grand Slam, opening against Argentine qualifier Jorgelina Cravero.

Federer, who defeated Rafael Nadal in last year's final, has never played Gabashvili. Federer, who will play on Centre Court on Monday, is trying to become the first player to win five straight Wimbledons since Bjorn Borg accomplished the feat from 1976 to 1980.

Third-seeded Andy Roddick is in Federer's top half of the draw, and could meet the Swiss star in the semifinals. Federer beat the American in the 2004 and 2005 finals.

Roddick faces Justin Gimelstob in an all-American first-round matchup and could meet eighth-seeded Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.

Federer's other main rivals in his section of the draw are Marat Safin, James Blake and Dmitry Tursunov. Henin could face two-time champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Williams, the seventh seed, plays Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.

Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo, who is seeded No. 4, opens her title defense against American Jamea Jackson and could face French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Mauresmo could meet 2004 champion Maria Sharapova or three-time winner Venus Williams.

Second-seeded Sharapova and No. 24 Venus Williams are lined up for a fourth-round matchup. Sharapova leads 3-1 in career play, but Venus Williams beat her in the 2005 semifinals on her way to her most recent Wimbledon title.

Sharapova faces Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan in the first round, while Venus Williams plays Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.

Like Henin, Nadal is coming off his third consecutive French Open title. The second-seeded Spaniard faces Mardy Fish of the United States in his opening round.

Nadal could meet two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Sebastien Grosjean of France in the third round. Tomas Berdych or Jonas Bjorkman could await in the quarterfinals.

Fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian and 2006 semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis are in Nadal's half.

Unseeded Tim Henman was drawn to play Carlos Moya in the opening round. While Henman has reached the semifinals at Wimbledon four times, his ranking has slumped to 78 amid injuries.

Henman last reached the semis in 2002 and has lost in the second round the past two years. Moya has a 5-4 career record against Henman, although the two have never met on grass.

With Henman's decline, British hopes have been pinned on Murray, who reached the fourth round last year. However, he is in doubt with a wrist injury that caused him to pull out of the French Open and Wimbledon warmup events.

Murray opens against Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador.

In the top half of the women's draw with Henin and Serena Williams are Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic and Anna Chakvetadze.

Hingis won Wimbledon in 1997 and reached the third round last year in her first visit to the All England Club since ending a three-year retirement. She plays British wildcard Naomi Cavaday in the first round.