Wimbledon, England – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have combined for nine of the last 10 Wimbledon championships, but could meet as early as the quarterfinals this year after the draw for the season's third Grand Slam event was revealed Friday.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer enters as the defending titlist and a seven-time winner on the famed lawns of the All England Club. He is the third seed this year and also claimed his first title of 2013 just last week at the grass-court tune-up in Halle.
Nadal lost to Federer in the 2006 and 2007 finals before finally beating the Swiss star the following year for his first Wimbledon crown. He also won the 2010 championship, but despite seven titles -- and two finals -- in nine events this year, is seeded only fifth because of his low ranking following a lengthy injury layoff.
That will leave the two icons in the same quarter of the draw. They've never played each other before the semifinals in any Grand Slam event. Federer will open his stay in the London suburb against Romania's Victor Hanescu, while Nadal will face Belgium's Steve Darcis in the first round and could meet former Wimbledon champ Lleyton Hewitt in round four.
The 12-time major champion Nadal opted to skip a grass-court tune-up after capturing his eighth French Open title earlier this month. He was a second- round loser at Wimbledon last year before taking seven months off because of a knee issue.
The two great champions are also in the same half of the draw as British crowd favorite Andy Murray. Seeded second this year, the U.S. Open champion and Aussie Open runner-up Murray lost to Federer in last year's Wimbledon finale before beating Federer just a few weeks later to capture Olympic gold on Centre Court at last summer's London Games.
Murray, coming off his third title at the Queen's Club tune-up, will face Germany's Benjamin Becker in the first round and could meet Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the third round. The Scot's potential quarterfinal opponents include sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 10th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic. Murray beat Tsonga in the semifinals at the Queen's Club before topping Cilic in three sets for the title.
"If you want to win the biggest tournaments, you have to beat the best players in the world," Murray said. "It doesn't really matter where they are in the draw."
The top half of the draw is headed by 2011 Wimbledon champ and six-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic. The top-seeded Australian Open champion from Serbia will take on Germany's Florian Mayer to start the fortnight and could meet resurgent German Tommy Haas in the fourth round, while a possible quarterfinal foe could be seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych -- the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up.
Spain's David Ferrer tops the other quarter in the top half of the draw. The fourth seed is coming off a first-round loss at the Den Bosch tune-up after reaching his first-ever Grand Slam final a few weeks back at the French. He will square off against Argentina's Martin Alund in the first round and could play another Argentine, eighth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, in the quarters.
First-round play begins Monday.