Seven-time champion Roger Federer could face Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon — their earliest meeting in any Grand Slam.
The draw Friday for the grass-court Grand Slam placed the third-seeded Federer and No. 5 Nadal in the same half. Federer is the defending champion at the All England Club, while Nadal is a two-time winner.
Home favorite Andy Murray, who is seeded No. 2, is also in the same bottom half and could meet Nadal or Federer in the semifinal. Top-seeded Novak Djokovic is in the top half and has a much easier path to the final, facing a possible semifinal against No. 4 David Ferrer.
In the women’s draw, five-time champion and top-seeded Serena Williams will open against Mandy Minella of Luxembourg. Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka has a first-round match against Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal.
In the absence of her sister Venus, who pulled out this week with a back injury, Serena is bidding to win her 17th Grand Slam title and considered the overwhelming favorite. Since losing in the first round at the French Open last year, she has amassed a record of 74-3 and won three of the last four major titles.
Nadal and Federer have met in three Wimbledon finals but have never played each other before the semifinals of any Grand Slam tournament. In 2008, they played one of the greatest finals on the London grass, with Nadal prevailing 9-7 in the fifth set to claim his first Wimbledon trophy.
Last year, Federer won his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title by beating Murray in the final. Murray, who later beat Federer for the Olympic gold at Wimbledon, will be bidding to become the first British player to win the men’s title since Fred Perry in 1936.
The other possible men’s quarterfinals are: Djokovic against No.7 Tomas Berdych; Ferrer vs. No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro and Murray against No.6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Wimbledon’s seeding order is determined using the ATP rankings and points are added for achievements in grass-court tournaments over the past 12 months.
Nadal, coming off his eighth French Open victory, has been seeded No. 5 after being sidelined for about seven months with a left knee injury following his surprise loss in the second round at Wimbledon last year.
Nadal has looked unstoppable since his return from injury, winning seven titles in nine finals. The draw is certainly a tough one for Federer, who has recently struggled but rallied to victory in Halle, Germany, in his favorite warm-up for Wimbledon. Four of Federer’s seven wins at Wimbledon came after he lifted the trophy in Halle.