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A bad back in the second week — as Roger Federer remembers very well — is no guarantee of failure at Wimbledon.
Federer won his first Wimbledon title in 2003 after experiencing back spasms in the Round of 16. He eventually went on to beat Mark Philippoussis in style in the final.
But it is clearly not the preferred path to the trophy at the All England Club, and to see Federer stiffly putting serves and passing shots into play against Xavier Malisse on a raw and gusty Monday was to wonder whether he will be capable of handling the bigger challenges to come. Those are likely to include the world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whose strokes and spine appear to be in superior shape for the...