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Men's final preview: Record in sight for Federer

by Benjamin Snyder
Sunday 8 July 2012

Roger Federer is just one win away from scribbling yet another line into the tennis history books. With six Wimbledon titles and an all-time men’s record of 16 Grand Slam titles to his name, Federer looks to collect his first major since a victory at the Australian Open in 2010 over Andy Murray. Additionally, if he should prove Sunday’s stronger player on Centre Court, he will regain the No.1 ranking.

Federer’s opponent in a final for the seventh time, Murray seeks to rewrite history of his own by breaking through with a Championship win during an era dominated at the majors by Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. With a victory on Sunday, Murray would become the first British player since Fred Perry’s third consecutive win at the All England Club back in 1936.

The task ahead for the Scot would seem nearly impossible with a quick glance at the record books. After claiming his initial Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 2003 with a straight-sets victory over Mark Philippoussis, Federer rolled on grass to take four straight Championships. In 2008, however, he fell to Nadal in a five-set classic. In the next year, Federer regrouped to win, defeating American Andy Roddick in a final for a third time on the final day of the Fortnight, 16-14 in the fifth.

Additionally, one needs not look much further than Federer’s career win-loss record at Wimbledon, which stands at an almost insurmountable 65-7 to Murray’s 30-6. Only Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker achieved more wins at the tournament when compared to Federer with 84 and 71, respectively. Notably, they collected fewer titles each – with two for Connors and five for Borg.

If, however, that win-loss record on the grass of the All England Club is not enough to assuage fears of a Federer failure to Murray, the Scot’s storied losses in Grand Slam finals may prove additional comfort, especially against his Swiss opponent. At the US Open in 2008, Murray’s hopes of capturing a maiden Grand Slam title faltered as he fell 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Against Federer again, but this time under the Australian sun in 2010, attempts for a major victory were dashed as he was downed 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11). One year later at Melbourne Park, Murray reached the decider, but the score against Djokovic was equally bleak.

While Federer’s former Grand Slam efforts outclass Murray’s, fans of the Scot may see some promise in the two men’s head-to-head record. Although the Federer and Nadal rivalry reigns as one of the richest rivalries in sport, the Swiss and the Scot have had their battles from the baseline, too. Along with the Spaniard, Murray is the only active player to enjoy a winning record against Federer. He holds eight wins to Federer’s seven, with the last event going the Swiss’s way during the finals of Dubai.

But Federer does not discount Murray when looking ahead to their match. He instead goes out of his way to praise his opponent’s promise. “He's only going to get better as time goes by.  That's what he's been proving,” Federer said.

He also expressed excitement to face the crafty Dunblane native in a 16th meeting on Sunday. As he told reporters after defeating the Serbian star Djokovic in his semi-final, he would “love to play Murray.” Federer continued, “I always say in whatever country I am I like to play the local hero. Andy is exactly that here at Wimbledon.”

In his quest to join Pete Sampras and William Renshaw by taking a seventh Wimbledon title, Federer faced a rocky road to this year’s final. After a succession of two straight-sets victories over Albert Ramos and Fabio Fognini, Federer seemed prime to lose against Frenchman Julian Benneteau after losing the first two sets. He raised his level in the final three to advance in over three hours and to bring his five-set record when down two sets-to-love in majors to eight wins total. Federer would also drop sets against Xavier Malisse in the fourth round and to Djokovic in the second set of the final four.

With the win on Friday, Federer earned a spot in a major final for each of the past 10 years. Regardless of the records and experience garnered in the process, he admits that pressure can still negatively creep into his performance, such as during his 2010 and 2011 semi-final losses to Djokovic at the US Open where he held match points in both.

But looking forward to play on Sunday, he said: “It's a big match for me and I hope I can keep my nerves.  I'm sure I can.  Then hopefully win the match.”

Federer: tournament stats

Aces / Double Faults

59/8

First serves in

66%

First / second serve points won

79% / 61%

Service games won

91

Fastest serve / average first serve speed

128/115

Returns in play

72%

Break points won

34/77

FH winners / BH winners / overall winners

78/33/222

Unforced errors

88

Total net points won

139/194

Total court time

12.09

Longest match

3.34

 

Federer: road to the final

Round

Opponent

Ranking

Score

First

Albert Ramos

43

6-1, 6-1, 6-1

Second

Fabio Fognini

68

6-1, 6-3, 6-2

Third

 Julien Benneteau

32

4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1

Fourth

Xavier Malisse

75

7-6(1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3

Quarter-final

Mikhail Youzhny

33

6-1, 6-2, 6-2

Semi-final

Novak Djokovic

1

6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3

 


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