Federer out to claim record against fresh face Cilic
July 16, 2017 03:47 PM NPT
LONDON, July 16: For the first time in eight grand slam finals over the same amount of years, Roger Federer will not play someone called Andy, Novak or Rafa when he bids for a record eighth Wimbledon title on Sunday.
Such has been the dominance of tennis's so-called big-four along with Swiss Stan Wawrinka that Federer will have to wind the clock back to the 2009 U.S. Open when he lost to Juan Martin del Potro to remember what it is like to play a major final against someone outside of the sport's established powerbase.
With Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal all having fallen by the wayside at Wimbledon this year, Federer will face Marin Cilic in the Center Court showdown.
While the Croat comes armed with a huge serve and some grand slam pedigree, as the last person outside of the world's current top five to win a major, Federer admits it will be a nice change to see a fresh face on the other side of the net.
"Thank God I've played also guys who were not called Rafa, Andy or Novak (in finals) in the past," Federer told reporters.
"From that standpoint I don't want to say it's more relaxed going into it because I have a good head-to-head record against Marin, even though the matches were extremely close.
"But it's not like we've played against each other 30 times. You feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. It's more straightforward, in my opinion. I think that's nice in some ways. It's a nice change, but it doesn't make things easier."
Federer is level with Britain's William Renshaw and American Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon titles and has been refreshed after taking an extended break from the game to prepare for the grasscourt slam.
He has not dropped a set all tournament and is a clear favorite to claim a 19th grand slam title, after he began the year by winning the Australian Open.
"It makes me really happy, making history here at Wimbledon," he said.
"It's a big deal. I love this tournament. All my dreams came true here as a player. To have another chance to go for number eight now, be so close now at this stage, is a great feeling."
Cilic ready to step up against record-chasing Federer
Marin Cilic is confident he can build on last year's heartbreak and prevent Roger Federer from winning a record eighth Wimbledon men's singles crown when the pair meet in Sunday's title showdown on Centre Court.
In seven meetings against the tall Croatian, Federer has lost just once, a 2014 U.S. Open semi-final defeat as Cilic went on to claim his maiden grand slam title.
In last year's quarter-finals at the All England Club, Federer saved three match points before edging out Cilic in five sets and the closeness of that match is comforting for the Croat.
"I was one point away from winning a match over here against him. Definitely, I believe in my own abilities to get through and to win it," the 28-year-old said.
"But I still know that it's a big mountain to climb. Roger is playing maybe some of the best tennis of his career at the moment, having a great season. So I know it's going to be a huge challenge. But I believe I'm ready," he added.
However, the Swiss, level with Britain's William Renshaw and American Pete Sampras on a joint record seven Wimbledon titles, enters the final as the clear favorite, having not dropped a set in entire the tournament.
Should he triumph, Federer, who turns 36 next month, will become the oldest winner of the Challenge Cup since tennis turned professional in 1968.