Federer draws easy path for Wimbledon

Wimbledon, June 22:

Top-ranked Roger Federer will play Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia in the first round at Wimbledon to open his bid for a fifth consecutive title at the All England Club.

Federer, who defeated Rafael Nadal in last year’s final, has never played Gabashvili, who is ranked 85th in the world.

Third-seeded Andy Roddick is in Federer’s top half of the draw, and could meet the Swiss star in the semi-finals. Federer’s other main rivals are Marat Safin, James Blake and Dmitry Tursunov. Federer is trying to become the first player to win five straight Wimbledons since Bjorn Borg won from 1976 to 1980.

In the women’s draw, top-seeded Justine Henin opens against Argentine Jorgelina Cravero as she seeks to complete a career Grand Slam. Henin could face two-time champion Serena Williams in the quarters. Amelie Mauresmo opens her title defense against Jamea Jackson of the US and could face French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic in the quarters. In the semis, Mauresmo could meet 2004 champion Maria Sharapova or three-time winner Venus Williams.

Like Henin, Nadal is coming off his third consecutive French Open title. The Spaniard faces Mardy Fish of the US in his opening round. Nadal could meet two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Sebastien Grosjean of France in the third round. Tomas Berdych or Jonas Bjorkman could await in the quarters.