Belfast Telegraph

Federer's in line to be the grandest

Sampras's record is new target

By Frank Malley

Roger Federer today turned his sights on making more history.The world number one equalled Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles when he defeated Rafael Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2. He also drew level with Borg and Rod Laver on 11 Grand Slams.

But now he wants to be the greatest of all time by eclipsing the feats of Pete Sampras who claimed 14 Grand Slam titles.

Federer, who with Borg watching won his first Grand Slam final in five sets, said: "It's on my mind, but it's not as if I say I have to beat this record, otherwise it's no good.

"Pete Sampras is maybe the greatest player we've ever had so to break his record is not the easiest thing, I know that.

"It has taken me five Wimbledons and three Australian Opens and three US Opens just to get close to him. It just shows what a great player he was."

At 26 next month, Federer is in his prime and still has the hunger and the determination to win titles, even if he recognises that Nadal and others such as Novak Djokovic and even Britain's Andy Murray are beginning to pose a new and sustained threat to his domination.

He said: "I don't know how much longer I can keep it up but I definitely feel I'm mentally and physically still fit to go on for many more years to come.

"But that's not going to make you win trophies. You've got to give yourself occasions and possibilities.

"That's what I've been able to do. I'd love to equal his record. To be on the same level as Pete Sampras, my former hero, is already very nice but I'm not there yet."

Federer also explained why he was angry and swore when he lost his serve in the third game of the fourth set in a compelling final after line machine 'Hawkeye' had ruled 'In' a Nadal ball which on first glance appeared out.

"I was just frustrated," said Federer. "The umpire told me he saw the ball was out. He couldn't believe it was in. For me it was a kind of shock. I was like, all of a sudden anything you challenge is going to go against me. You feel like things are just not working out for you. It took me a few games to forget about it and then I was ready for the fifth, thank God."

Nadal, who squandered four break points in the final set, admitted the difference between the two was Federer's superior serving.

But at 21 and after having won three consecutive French Open titles on clay, he knows he is fast closing in on Federer's Grand Slam domination, even on the grass courts which for five years have been the Swiss star's personal kingdom.

"I am a better player than last year," said Nadal. "Roger has 11 Grand Slams and I have three. But I am young. I am improving every season and try to continue improving every day.

"It was tough but it was good for me to play a final like this against the best in the world on grass and to play at a similar level. I'm happy about my game right now."

Belfast Telegraph


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