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Roger Federer: 'You don't want another me!'

Roger Federer arrives for practice at Wimbledon
by Helen Gilbert
Sunday 23 June 2013

Roger Federer is quite clear. He doesn't wish to see another player of his ilk on the tour, nor another Rafael Nadal. It is, he believes, a "bad idea" for competitors to base their game on the style of another player and one which would perhaps be detrimental to the sport.

“I don’t think you want another guy like me, because you want another personality, another game,” he said in his pre-Championship news conference. “I think the diverse characters and playing styles is what really drives this game. I wouldn’t want to see another guy like me, another guy like Nadal, another guy like somebody else. We’re all very different, and that’s good that way.”

Some may beg to differ with the defending Wimbledon champion and 17-time major winner whose poise, elegant style of play and outstanding accomplishment has delighted fan across the world for the best part of a decade.

But he has valid reason for his musings. When Federer lifted his maiden Grand Slam title at The Championships in 2003 aged 21, along came the Pete Sampras comparisons.

The mumblings had started two years before when the multi-lingual Swiss was catapulted into the spotlight following his fourth-round victory over the legendary American known as ‘Pistol Pete’. That triumph not only dethroned Sampras as Wimbledon champion but also ended his 31-match winning streak and dominance of the SW19 lawns.

The comparisons continued to be drawn with every Wimbledon title Federer amassed and having equalled Sampras’ feat of seven Championship titles they still persist. Although inevitable, the world No. 3 does not believe the comparisons are good for tennis.

“I think it’s a bad idea to base your game after someone,” he said. “I had a little bit [of] that situation with Sampras. Everybody compared me to him. If you look and analyse the game, the character, we’re actually incredibly different.

“I didn’t want to be known as a second Sampras, like others don’t want to be the second Federer. They all need to create their own identity...There’s always a first of everything for everybody.”

If Federer defends his title he will become the most decorated men's singles player in Wimbledon history. Does that add any extra pressure?

“I haven’t thought about it a whole lot,” he said. “I can talk about that if I’ve won the tournament, but not right before. I know the road is hard, but it is possible. I’m looking forward to the challenge really.”

For now the No. 3 seed is simply looking forward to strolling out on Centre Court on Monday where he will begin his Wimbledon campaign against Victor Hanescu. Federer admitted there is pressure, “you don’t want to lose” but described the moment as “very, very special for a tennis player.”

“You really feel very unique, clearly, because you are the one opening the court,” he said. “It’s something you look back on…That I was able to do it that many times is fantastic. I feel very proud.”

And so he should. After all there is only one Roger Federer.

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