18-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer continues to defy the odds at the age of 35. The former world number one is one of the in-form players in 2017. This time last year at Wimbledon, the third seed lost in the semifinals to Milos Raonic in a five-set clash on Centre Court. Federer shut down his season for the rest of the year to heal niggling injuries. He came back in January, and he was the 17th seed at the Australian Open, where he unexpectedly claimed his fifth title in Melbourne, and 18th Grand Slam title.
Federer had a tough draw and defeated the likes of Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in the final to clinch the title in Melbourne. The current world number five has also won titles at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Miami Open, and Halle.
It's been a revelation for the former world number one's third round opponent and 27th seed Mischa Zverev. The German has turned around his year after reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open when he stunned world number one Andy Murray in the fourth round with a stunning serve and volley display.
The 29-year-old reached his career-high ranking of 29 last month, and he lost his second career final to Federer's compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Geneva before the French Open got underway. Zverev's serve and volleying are tailor-made for the grass but he is up against the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who also excels in that game.
Federer's route to the third round
The 18-time Grand Slam champion is the third seed due to his recent performances at Wimbledon and on grass. Despite not winning Wimbledon since 2012, the former world number one has competed in ten finals at SW19, losing to Novak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015. The third seed is currently ranked at five in the world, but cannot finish as the world number one due to his semifinal run last year. The 35-year-old was hardly tested in his first round match with Alexander Dolgopolov as the Ukranian retired with injury, trailing 6-3, 3-0.
The seven-time champion was given a sterner test in the second round against Dusan Lajovic. Federer surrendered his serve early on and trailed 2-0 but he got back on level terms quickly and took a stranglehold in the match after claiming the first set tiebreak. The former world number one dispatched Lajovic, 7-6(0), 6-3, 6-2. Federer has hardly broken a sweat at Wimbledon which is vital going forward for his chances as he will need to conserve energy for the later rounds.
Zverev's route to the third round
For the first time since the USA's Gullikson's brothers reached the third round at Wimbledon, two brothers have reached that stage for the first time since 1984. Zverev's younger brother Alexander is the tenth seed, and the brothers could clash in the quarterfinals, should they win the next two matches but it will be a tall order for that to happen.
Zverev defeated 2011 quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round at Wimbledon. The Australian admitted that he was disinterested with the sport, which led to his sponsor Head dropping him. The 27th seed endured a tough five-set clash with Mikhail Kukushkin despite leading two sets to love. Zverev came through, 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the third round at SW19 for the first time since 2008.
Federer and Zverev have met on four previous occasions, and the former world number one has won all four of their meetings. The third seed won their first encounter in straight sets in the quarterfinals in Rome in 2009, and he thrashed Zverev in their quarterfinal clash, 6-0, 6- in Halle in 2013.
Moreover, Federer neutralized the German's serve and volley game in their quarterfinal meeting at the Australian Open with Federer coming out on top, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2. Their most recent encounter was in Halle last month, and the former world number one dispatched the German once again, 7-6(4), 6-4, and he went on to clinch a ninth title in Halle.
Who reaches the fourth round?
The seven-time champion has this match on his racquet. However, Federer cannot afford to have a slow start. If Zverev finds a rhythm in his serve and volley game which he produced consistently in the first set in Halle, he poses the Swiss number two some problems. On the other hand, Federer will be playing his third successive match of the tournament on Centre Court. The third seed will be comfortable playing on his favorite court, where he has had plenty of success in the past.
The former world number one could blow the German off court if his serve and volley game is not working effectively. Federer can step on the court, and use his devastating backhand to do damage to Zverev.
This will be an intriguing third round encounter with two different styles, but you would expect the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion to have too much for Zverev. This will be the final match scheduled on Centre Court. The winner will face the 2014 semifinalist and 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov or Dudi Sela in the fourth round on Manic Monday.
Prediction: Federer in straight sets