Federer in cusp of historyJune 6th, 2009 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS
Paris, June 6 (DPA) Roger Federer is keeping his eye on the prize, refusing to allow even a smallest hint of overconfidence to slip into his preparation for what could be a history-making final Sunday at the French Open.
The Swiss is poised on the cusp of levelling on the all-time mark of 14 Grand Slam singles titles, achieved by Pete Sampras at the 2002 US Open.
Standing in Federer’s ways is 25th-ranked Swedish surprise packet Robin Soderling, who has been living a dream since achieving the unthinkable with his win over Rafael Nadal last Sunday in the fourth round.
“There are no easy Grand Slam finals,” said Federer, one victory away from his place as the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships in his career. “The one on the other side of the net has also won six matches and is definitely in the shape of his life.”
Andre Agassi was the last to complete a career Grand Slam 10 years ago at Roland Garros. Other players who have done it are: Fred Perry in 1935, Don Budge in 1938, Rod Laver (1962 and ‘69) and Roy Emerson(1964).
Soderling, playing in his first career final on clay, has never been past the third round at a major until his Roland Garros breakthrough.
“I cannot obviously underestimate Robin even though I’ve beaten him, I think, in the nine matches we’ve played against each other,” said Federer, who last handled the Swede in straight sets a month ago on clay in Madrid.
“Obviously it’s nice to see someone else for a change in the French Open finals,” said Federer of the absent Nadal, who has beaten him in the last three Paris finals and before that in a semi. “I’ve been there before.
“But I don’t know if it’s (having previously been in the final) an advantage or not, because I’ve never been able to win.”
Federer, who lost his only set to Soderling on grass four years ago, has equalled Ivan Lendl’s all-time record of 19 Grand Slam final appearances. He has now appeared in 15 of the last 16 Grand Slam finals at majors, missing only the Australian Open last year when he went out in the semis to Novak Djokovic.
“The pressure is big for both players,” said the Swiss, playing in his fifth straight Grand Slam title match. “Not only for me, but also for him.
“It’s his first big step in a Grand Slam. I’m sure we’re going to play some good tennis.”
Soderling knows what he is up against - even if he’s yet to experience it.
“I’ve lost a lot of times to Federer. He’s a great player and it’s very difficult to play against him. I’m expecting the toughest match I can possibly have on Sunday.
“The final for me is the match you really, really want to win. I feel like I’ve played some big matches on the center court this week, I feel like I’m very prepared.”
Federer stands 13-5 in singles finals at majors. He came through a tough patch during the fortnight, losing six sets and forced into five-set victories against Juan Del Potro in the semis and Tommy Haas in the fourth round this week.
- Clay king Nadal lifts emphatic fifth title in Paris (Lead) - Jun 06, 2010
- Nadal beats Federer, wins sixth French Open crown (Lead) - Jun 06, 2011
- Djokovic: Taking on Nadal in French Open final is ultimate challenge - Jun 09, 2012
- Nadal, Djokovic eyeing history in French Open final (Lead) - Jun 09, 2012
- Federer fires through to set up Paris rematch; Murray out - May 31, 2010
- Federer through to set up re-match with Soderling - May 31, 2010
- Federer loses to Berdych, seventh Wimbledon title hopes evaporate (Lead) - Jun 30, 2010
- Soderling shocks Federer in French Open comeback win - Jun 02, 2010
- Federer overwhelms Melzer to set up Soderling showdown - Sep 07, 2010
- Nadal one win away from French Open title record - Jun 09, 2012
- Nadal beats Youzhny to reach first US Open final - Sep 12, 2010
- Lethal Nadal back on form, stunning defeat for Djokovic - Jun 03, 2010
- Nadal moves forward while Henin eliminated in Paris - Jun 01, 2010
- Nadal wins record seventh French Open (Lead) - Jun 11, 2012
- Djokovic overcomes Nadal to win US Open - Sep 13, 2011
Tags: andre agassi, cusp, don budge, eye on the prize, fred perry, grand slam championships, grand slam finals, ivan lendl, living a dream, overconfidence, pete sampras, rafael nadal, robin soderling, rod laver, roger federer, roland garros, roy emerson, sixth man, straight sets, time mark