Federer will feel the nerves of Slam record bid

Roger Federer admits he will begin to feel the weight of history on his shoulders if his bid to break Pete Sampras’s record for Grand Slam victories goes the distance at Wimbledon.

Federer was hailed as the greatest player of all time after his French Open victory earlier this month equalled Sampras’s haul of 14 Grand Slam titles.

But the world number two, one of only six players to win all four Grand Slams, can move into a league of his own by surpassing Sampras and claiming a sixth Wimbledon crown all in one go.

It would be fitting for Federer to achieve the unique mark at the venue where he has felt most at home since winning his first Grand Slam here back in 2003.

The 27-year-old is fascinated by tennis history and the feats of greats like Sampras, Rod Laver and Andre Agassi, so even such a cool customer as the Swiss star knows tension is bound to creep into his game if he get within touching distance of such a remarkable achievement.

“Right now regaining my Wimbledon title stands over trying to beat Pete’s record, but I guess once I come down to the semifinals or finals then the record is going to start creeping into my mind,” Federer said.

“I didn’t particularly enter the French trying to tie Pete’s record either. I was just trying to win my first Roland Garros.

“But I know that things are looking good for me. If I can win in Paris, there’s obviously a very good chance I can also win Wimbledon.”

With defending champion Rafael Nadal forced to withdraw on Friday after losing his battle to recover from knee tendinitis, Federer is widely expected to retain the title he lost in a thrilling final against the Spaniard last year.

The main threat to Federer could come from Britain’s Andy Murray, who is seeded to face him in the final and has won six of their eight meetings.

Something about Murray seems to have needled the Swiss star judging by the usually gracious Federer’s recent caustic comments about the world number three.

Federer, whose last win against Murray came in last year’s US Open final, had another slight jibe at the Scot as he admitted he was surprised how long it had taken the 22-year-old to reach the top.

“He’s a very gifted player.
He has wonderful feel. He’s a great tactician. I always said that and he’s finally proved it because it took him some time,” Federer said.

“That was the disappointing part, I thought, that it took him longer than I expected. So I was wrong with my prediction because I expected him to do better a few years ago.

“But everything is coming together for him now and he’s been rock solid for almost two years. He’s where he belongs, absolutely.

“I always said Andy I think is a wonderful grass court player. I knew he was going to be one of the toughest ones to beat on grass next to Rafa and Novak Djokovic.”

Federer is due to play the first match on Centre Court on Monday against Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu and if rains falls he will be the first to play under the arena’s new roof, in use for the first time this year.

“I went to see Centre Court the other day and it didn’t lose anything of the whole history. It still remains the best court in the world,” Federer said.

“I think it’s actually going to make the atmosphere more intimate because the sound will stay within the stadium. You’re not looking for rain but I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”—AFP

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