Federer seeks 7th straight Wimbledon final

Perhaps Roger Federer does not quite tie or break records every time he takes the court at Grand Slam tournaments.

updated: July 02, 2009 16:10 IST
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Wimbledon, England:

Perhaps Roger Federer does not quite tie or break records every time he takes the court at Grand Slam tournaments.

It sure feels as though he does.

Federer can reach a 20th Grand Slam final _ something no man ever has done _ and move within a victory of his 15th career major title _ never been done, either _ by beating Tommy Haas in Friday's Wimbledon semifinals.

"It's fun playing the biggest matches. Especially, I like playing best-of-five-set matches. And maybe this is where I'm best, because everything comes out," Federer said. "Not only your mental strengths, but physical, tactical skills."

He is seeking a sixth Wimbledon championship and the match against the 24th-seeded Haas is the Swiss star's 21st Grand Slam semifinal in a row, extending a record he already owned. Overall, Federer is 19-3 in major semifinals; Haas is 0-3.

"The consistency, right there, in the big tournaments is ridiculous," said Andy Murray, who will meet Andy Roddick in the other semifinal. "You know, no one will ever match that, I don't think."

By winning the French Open last month, Federer completed a career Grand Slam and tied Pete Sampras with 14 major championships. Sampras has not said whether he'll show up if Federer has a chance to break that tie Sunday. Past performances certainly indicate Federer should be there.

He leads Haas 9-2 head-to-head, including a big comeback June 1 in the fourth round of the French Open, where the German took the first two sets and was five points from victory. Federer, of course, came back.

"I stayed calm and I knew that if the match was going to swing around that it was going to be really difficult for him. It's exactly what happened," Federer said. "But new match, new tournament. We'll see what happens."

While he tries to reach the final for the 16th time in the past 17 major tournaments, the third-seeded Murray is trying to become the first British man to reach a Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin in 1938. No Briton has won the men's title at the country's Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry two years earlier.

Murray was the only British man or woman to get past the second round in singles this year and will be playing in his first Wimbledon semifinal.

So the buzz builds with each victory by the 22-year-old from Scotland. He wrote on Twitter about the good-luck note he received from Queen Elizabeth II _ everyone in Britain wants to know whether she'll show up in the Royal Box if Murray reaches Sunday's final _ and the phone call he got from actor Sean Connery.

"It doesn't make any difference the way you perform, the hype. If you ... spend a lot of time reading the papers, watching everything on the TV, all the things that are getting said on the radio, then you get caught up in it," said Murray, the runner-up to Federer at last year's U.S. Open. "If you ignore it, you don't realize it's happening."

Murray is 6-2 against Roddick, including a straight-set victory in their most recent meeting, in the final of a hard-court tournament in Doha, Qatar, in January.

That was Roddick's first tournament with new coach Larry Stefanki, who expects Friday's encounter to look different.

"It wasn't pretty. That tactic won't be used again. It was a very aggressive, offensive, bring-out-the-bugle-and-charge," Stefanki said. "And this guy is like (Mats) Wilander or (Bjorn) Borg _ you give him a target and he's going to pass you, lob you, dink you, because he's a great mover off the ball."

Stefanki said he had a chance to work with Murray a few years ago but declined, preferring instead to work with someone older and more established.

Still, Murray has developed his game and mental approach since then, Stefanki acknowledged.

"He's a great competitor now," Stefanki said about Murray. "He's a man. He's matured."

For Roddick, Wimbledon represents the 23rd Grand Slam tournament since he won his lone major championship at the 2003 U.S. Open. He badly wants to win a second.

It's why he changed coaches for this season. Slimmed down. Put in as much work as ever in practice, striving to improve his returns, his backhands, his volleys.

Add it all up, and the American is back in the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2005. Not that reaching this stage is enough.

"By no means is he satisfied, because the whole gig when he hired me is we've got to win a Slam," Stefanki said. "I said, 'That's what I'm here for.' Winning a Slam is what it's all about. Coming in second is like kissing your sister. And he knows that he's already won one. Nothing is going to suffice. Even if you get to the final, it won't do."

This match could be decided by Roddick's serve against Murray's returns. Roddick pounded 43 aces past 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt in Wednesday's quarterfinals, and he acknowledged that Murray is "certainly in the conversation among the best returners."

Roddick will have his new wife, his trainer and Stefanki in his corner Friday. Murray, meanwhile, will have roughly 15,000 supporters at Centre Court.

"It will certainly be something to remember. I think the crowd's going to be electric. I think it's going to be a great atmosphere, and one that I can certainly appreciate, even if it's not for me," Roddick said. "I'm just going to pretend when they say, 'Come on, Andy!' that they mean me."