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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Federer looks ahead to final

Photo Titled Relaxed Roger
Roger Federer looks calm and collected during his semi-finals match against There was an air of inevitability when Roger Federer held his pre-final press conference on Saturday - his seventh in as many years. The talk was all of records – which is his favourite Grand Slam victory of the 14 so far, how will it feel to regain the No.1 ranking if he wins, whether he is feeling the pressure now that he stands on the verge of greatness.

When the name “Andy” finally cropped up, it was from the British press asking him whether he was disappointed not to be playing Murray in the final (“I play whoever makes it through. Whoever wins the semi-final obviously deserved it more,” was Federer’s reply, for the record).

Even the US media, who you might have expected to talk up the chances of Nebraskan native Andy Roddick, seemed more concerned about Federer overhauling Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slams – and whether that achievement combined with impending fatherhood might prompt him to hang up his racket.

“No, I’m playing great tennis at the moment and still looking forward to playing the Olympics here at Wimbledon in 2012 which will be very special,” said the world No.2. “And in any case, Mirka (his wife) has told you all that she wants our child to be able to watch me play, so I’ve got a while yet!” he grinned.

Conversely, the conversation only got round to Roddick when the conference changed languages (the multilingual and ever-obliging Federer always does press conferences in four languages).

“He’s a real fighter – you can tell that by the way he sweats so much when he’s on court!” said Federer of his opponent on Sunday, prompting guffaws from the German-speaking journalists. “He has lots of energy, jumping for balls and he has real intensity – he never gives up.

“He’s a funny guy as well. We chat a lot and he’s always making jokes in the locker room. I think it was tough for him since the American press had great expectations of him. After Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and all the rest, I think they didn’t want a top 10 player, they wanted a No.1. I used to tell him that he wasn’t as bad as people were making out. It’s great to see him back up there.”

Federer has won 18 of the pair’s 20 meetings, but sees his head-to-head advantage as reason for extra vigilance as opposed to complacency. “If I don’t win on Sunday, that record won’t help me! The dream scenario would be like in the 2005 final or the 2003 semi,” said Federer, displaying his famed encyclopaedic memory for past matches.

“Those days I managed to read his serve incredibly well. It should be a fun match though – he’ll vary it, he won’t just hit it all on my backhand. He has a great serve and perhaps the best second serve in the game, so I’ll need to be totally focused.”

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