Federer surpasses Borg's grass-court win streak mark

6/28/2006 - Tennis


By Keith Hawkins, ESPN Tennis Editor
WIMBLEDON, England -- When the men's draw was released, many noticed who three-time defending champ Roger Federer had in the first round. Frenchman Richard Gasquet was not supposed to be an ordinary first-round opponent; after all, he's one of only four players who can say he's beaten Federer since the start of 2005. (Gasquet beat the Swiss in Monte Carlo last year.)

Monday's rain delayed only the inevitable, as Federer quickly disposed of Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday. The win was Federer's 42nd straight on grass, surpassing Bjorn Borg's Open era mark set from 1976-81. (All 41 of Borg's wins came at the All England Club.)

Unlike the French Open -- when Rafael Nadal was presented with a trophy for passing Guillermo Vilas' Open era clay-court win streak -- there was no such grass-court ceremony for the three-time defending champion.

"To get any streak is obivously nice," said Federer, who has not lost on grass since 2002. "I'm still going, so even better. I can maybe postpone it, you know, make it even last longer."

The one streak Federer is more concerned with is winning his fourth straight Wimbledon crown -- done only by Borg and Pete Sampras in the Open era. On Monday and again today, Federer wore a blazer commemorating his three straight titles.

"Nike and myself, we thought after three Wimbledons, we could do something special," Federer said. "They came up with the idea of a jacket which I thought was pretty nice. The logo has three racquets for the three Wimbledons, it's got the grass logo, it's got the lion star sign, the Swiss cross and Federer. So it's very nicely done.

"It's only one of a kind, so it's pretty nice."

Federer will face Great Britain's Tim Henman in the second round. Henman -- who beat Robin Soderling in five sets Tuesday -- is 6-4 against Federer, but has not beaten him since 2004.


There are reports that Brad Gilbert could make his return to coaching, this time with Great Britain's Andy Murray. Gilbert, a tennis analyst for ESPN since 2003, said he plans to meet with Murray after Wimbledon.

"Nothing is official," Gilbert said. "I'm committed to ESPN for this tournament 100 percent and [Andy] Murray has a lot on his plate, but we said we would speak after this tournament, and we'll see if we can come to a resolution."

Before coming to ESPN, Gilbert served as Andre Agassi's coach from 1994-2002. He was Andy Roddick's coach from 2003-04 and helped the American win his only Grand Slam title of his career, the 2003 U.S. Open.

"It's very nice to be wanted," Gilbert said Tuesday. "I get offered a lot of jobs, none that have piqued my interest. This is maybe the first that has piqued my interest. … It's just one of those things that kind of came up out of the blue a couple weeks ago.

"I haven't discussed this 100 percent with my wife. [ESPN] is a nice traveling situation and that would be a big lifestyle change. So these are the things that have to be discussed. … If [I'm] going to coach, it's going to be full-time and that means a lot of weeks away from your family."