Federer eyes Sampras mark | Inquirer Sports

Federer eyes Sampras mark

12:39 AM June 20, 2011

Photo by AP

LONDON—Roger Federer can picture himself lifting a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title, but can also sense the dangers posed by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Federer, now without a Grand Slam title since his 16th major at the 2010 Australian Open, was stunned by the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals last year, as his attempt to match Pete Sampras’ record of seven titles was shattered.

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It was his earliest exit at the All England Club since his first round loss to Mario Ancic in 2002.

But the 29-year-old Swiss has been buoyed by his unexpected run to the French Open final, where he came up short against Nadal, after ending Novak Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak in the semifinals.

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“I know I could tie with Sampras here,” said Federer, who starts his campaign against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.

“For me if I close my eyes and think about Wimbledon, it’s the moment when I lift the Wimbledon trophy. That’s the picture I see the strongest.”

But clouding that view is defending champion Nadal, who beat Federer to win a sixth French Open two weeks ago, as well as Australian Open champion Djokovic and Queen’s winner Murray, bidding to end Britain’s 75-year wait for a men’s champion.

World number one Nadal took his Grand Slam title tally to 10 with his latest Roland Garros triumph—his fourth final win in Paris over Federer—and is now only six majors behind the great Swiss.

The Spaniard will be chasing his third Wimbledon trophy and time is on his side. He is almost five years younger than Federer, 29.

But Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion and runner-up in 2006 and 2007, is not prepared to consider himself a better player than his great rival just yet.

“When you talk about these statistics, when you try and make these comparisons, really it’s not very interesting to me,” said Nadal, who faces America’s Michael Russell in the first round on Monday.

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Djokovic, poised to depose Nadal as world number one, has yet to make a Wimbledon final, losing in the 2010 semifinal to Berdych in straight sets and to Nadal, also in the last four, in 2007.

World number four Andy Murray, bidding to become Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936, made the semifinals in 2009 and 2010.

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TAGS: Andy Murray, French Open, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Sports, Tennis, Tomas Berdych, Wimbledon
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