Federer targets Sampras's Wimbledon record

Roger Federer admits his bid to retain the Wimbledon title will be driven by the prospect of equalling Pete Sampras's record of seven singles' titles at the All

Updated: June 20, 2010 15:57 IST
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London :Roger Federer admits his bid to retain the Wimbledon title will be driven by the prospect of equalling Pete Sampras's record of seven singles' titles at the All England Club.

Federer will walk onto Centre Court on Monday for his first round match against Colombia's Alejandro Falla with Sampras firmly on his mind at the start of a potentially historic fortnight for the world number two.

Sampras has been the finest exponent of grass court tennis in the Open era, but the American conceded last week that Federer has a great chance to shatter his Wimbledon record.

The 28-year-old, who announced his arrival as a force at Wimbledon with a victory over Sampras here in 2001, has already beaten Sampras's record of 14 grand slam singles titles and knows it would be remarkable achievement to draw level with the American's tally of All England Club titles.

"Being one title away from it, obviously I'm thinking about equalling Pete's record a little bit because I'm aware of the great things he achieved," Federer said.

"It's nice of him to say I could beat his Wimbledon record but I don't feel pressure from that because people compared me to Sampras even when I had no grand slams.

"Obviously my game's made for grass. Since I came here as a junior and since I beat Pete here in 2001 and I won my first Wimbledon here in 2003, I think every time I play, I'll have a chance to win here.

"But we all know how hard it is to win grand slam titles. You have to break it down and make it simple for yourself. I just have to try to win the first round before thinking about everything else."

Although Federer's phenomenal record at Wimbledon was enough to guarantee him the number one seeding, ahead of world number one Rafael Nadal, he arrives in south-west London with serious questions over his form.

By his own high standards 2010 has been disappointing year for the Swiss, who has failed to win any of his seven tournaments since beating Andy Murray in the Australian Open final in January.

Federer' run of 23 successive grand slam semi-final appearances was snapped at the French Open and he even lost for just the second time in 78 matches on grass when Lleyton Hewitt beat him in the final at Halle last week.

Yet Federer insists his recent struggles have not affected his preparations for Wimbledon and he expects to make another long run in the tournament.

"I really played some of the best tennis of my life in Australia and I've been disappointed I wasn't able to carry on," Federer said.

"I know my game, my body and everything so well that I really expected to take off and just go on a tear on that.

"It hurt. It was disappointing. But I think I found my game again in Madrid and in Halle I think the performances were good. That's why I'm confident for Wimbledon now.

"Rafa going above me in the world rankings doesn't change a whole lot. Mentally I wasn't going crazy after my loss at the French Open. It was all digested very quickly. Now it's about winning Wimbledon again."

Whatever his struggles away from Wimbledon, Federer will always be supremely confident when he feels the lush grass of Centre Court under his feet.

But he acknowledges there will be a strong challenge to his dominance from French Open champion Nadal, who defeated Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final, as well as home favourite Andy Murray.

"I felt like what I saw recently was the old classic Rafa on clay hardly losing sets and matches. That's why it's going to be incredibly hard to beat him here at Wimbledon," Federer said.

"Regardless of what happened between here and the Australian Open, Andy is one of the big favourites for this tournament. He played incredible tennis at the Australian Open."

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