Wimbledon, July 7
Once again, Roger Federer will be playing in the Wimbledon final. For once, it will be against Andy Murray.
A few hours after Federer reached his modern-era record eighth final at the All England Club, Murray advanced to his first ó and the first for a British man since Bunny Austin in 1938.
"There is a lot of pressure and stress around this time of year," said Murray, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 Friday. "I donít feel it when Iím on the practice court or when Iím just walking around. I try not to think about that stuff. "But in the back of my mind, itís there."
Federer played Novak Djokovic under the roof on Centre Court, and looked a lot like the player who has won six titles on the very same grass. The 16-time Grand Slam champion defeated last yearís winner 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, and is now one victory from equaling Pete Samprasí record of seven Wimbledon titles.
"I have one more match to go. Iím aware of that," said the 30-year-old Federer, who is 6-1 in Wimbledon finals and now 1-0 against Djokovic on grass. "Still, itís always nice beating someone like Novak, who has done so well here last year, the last couple years."
The victory improved Federerís semifinal record at the All England Club to 8-0. His only loss in the final came in 2008, when Rafael Nadal beat him 9-7 in the fifth set. In the menís final on Sunday, it will be the shotmaking that does the talking.
Federer will almost certainly have the psychological edge against Murray. Not only has he been at this stage seven times before, but he has beaten Murray in straight sets in two Grand Slam finals ó at the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2010 Australian Open.
Murray is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals ó 0-9 in sets in those three matches ó and will also have the expectations of his country squarely on his shoulders. The British public has been waiting for a menís Wimbledon champion for 76 years, when Fred Perry won the last of his three titles in 1936.
"Iím going to need all their help on Sunday because itís a massive challenge to win against Roger in the final of a slam, at Wimbledon," Murray said. "I hope that all of the crowd is with me." Only minutes after the win over Tsonga, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the victory "great news," perhaps piling even more pressure on Murray.
"Iíll be watching the final on Sunday and like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray," Cameron said in a statement. "I wish him the best of luck."
While a victory for Murray will be celebrated all over Britain, sandwiched between the Queenís Jubilee last month and the upcoming London Olympics, Federer is playing for more history. A victory in his 24th Grand Slam final would again give him the No. 1 ranking, and equal Samprasí record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.
"Thereís a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here, the all-time Grand Slam record, world No. 1," Federer said. "Iím also going into that match with some pressure, but Iím excited about it. Thatís what I play for."
William Renshaw and Arthur Gore also played in eight Wimbledon finals but that was when the defending champion received a bye into the following yearís title match. That rule was changed in 1922. Renshaw won seven titles and Gore three.
Despite Federerís chances for a history-making win, it could be the Murray factor that draws Queen Elizabeth II to the All England Club on Sunday.
The queen came to Wimbledon in 2010 ó the first time she had made the trip in 33 years. She skipped last year, but Murray in the final could be reason enough for a royal reappearance.
"Iím not sure if sheíll be here on Sunday," Murray said, "but it would be nice."