LONDON (Reuters) - Roger Federer faces a tough road to another Wimbledon final after Friday's draw threw Rafa Nadal and home favorite Andy Murray into the champion's path and cleared the way for world number one Novak Djokovic.
The third seed could face Spaniard Nadal, seeded only fifth to reflect his current ranking as he works his way back from injury, in what would likely be an epic quarter-final on the grass of southwest London.
Federer and Nadal, the big danger in the draw, played three finals in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
If the Swiss seven-times winner gets through the quarter-final, he faces a potential clash with last year's finalist Murray in the semi-finals.
World number one Novak Djokovic would be on course to face seventh seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals but will avoid any of his three main rivals until the final.
Djokovic plays Florian Mayer in his opening match and also has fourth seed David Ferrer in his half of the draw.
Nadal, the eight-times French Open winner who suffered a shock second-round defeat in London last year, starts out against Belgian Steve Darcis while Federer's first opponent is Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Second seed Murray's opener is against world number 95 Benjamin Becker, the 31-year-old German he beat in the quarter-finals on his way to victory in the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club last week.
If all goes to plan, Murray will face old foe Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight - having beaten the Frenchman in last year's semi-finals and at Queen's this month.
"You don't look past the first match," the Scot had said ahead of the draw. "There are a lot of dangerous players out there early in the tournament."
Murray, Federer and Nadal are all scheduled to play on the opening day on Monday.
In the women's draw, top seed and defending champion Serena Williams will begin her quest for a 17th grand slam title against Luxembourg's Mandy Minella.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)