Rejuvenated Roddick to pose little threat
LONDON: Roger Federer will attempt to write a new chapter in tennis history on Sunday when he targets a record 15th Grand Slam title by beating Wimbledon comeback kid Andy Roddick.
Five-time champion Federer is playing in a seventh straight Wimbledon final, and a record 20th Grand Slam title match, where victory will take him past Pete Sampras's mark of 14 majors he equalled with his French Open win in June.
Roddick, desperate for a second major to add to his 2003 US Open title, has been here before, losing the 2004 and 2005 All England Club finals to Federer.
"I'm very proud of all the records I've achieved, because I never thought I would be that successful as a kid," said Federer, who lost his five-year grip on the title to Rafael Nadal here last year.
"I would have been happy winning a couple tournaments and maybe collecting Wimbledon, achieving the dream scenario.
"It's quite staggering. Having so many things going for me now again, it's fantastic."
The form book favours Federer, who has won a staggering 18 of his 20 match-ups with Roddick.
But having seen off Tommy Haas in straight sets to reach the final, Federer is aware of the danger posed by a rejuvenated Roddick, who ended Andy Murray's bid to become Britain's first men's Wimbledon champion in 73 years.
The 26-year-old American's four-set, semi-final win put him into a first Grand Slam final in three years and it was achieved with a clever mix of trademark big serves, fierce groundstrokes and a composed performance at the net.
Federer is aware of Roddick's gifts.
"I've played him 20 times, so I've had plenty of time to study his game, to understand his game," he said.
"He's always played me also quite differently every single time I've played him. In the beginning of his career, I remember back in 2003, he was sometimes standing way back on the return.
"But then I played him one year and he chipped and charged a lot, and came to the net a lot. I've also played him when he's serve and volleyed first and second serve almost.
"I've had many different looks against Roddick. I enjoy how he leaves everything out on the court. I can only marvel at how incredible his serve is. I like playing against him, not only just because of the record."
Roddick, whom many people had written off as a serious force in the dominant age of Federer and Nadal, believes his decision to hire veteran coach Larry Stefanki has paid dividends.
"He's certainly is well-studied. He kind of picks the right times to discuss stuff. It's not always the same, it doesn't feel monotonous. It's not always the same time that he picks and chooses to talk about an upcoming match," said the American.
"I certainly got the sense that he believed that we could get back to this point. That was large."
But Roddick also admits that there was a stage last year when he thought he would never make another Grand Slam final.
He was at his lowest ebb after suffering his earliest exit here in 2008 when he was beaten in the second round by Janko Tipsarevic, a defeat which forced him to question his future at the highest level.
But after discussing his future with wife Brooklyn Decker, Roddick decided to carry on and seek improvements in 2009.
"Last year after I played here, that was a hard, hard couple of weeks," said Roddick.
"Brook and I had a lot of talks on if I still thought I could play and at least be towards the top of the game. I definitely openly questioned it at that point.
"So this off-season, we said if you're not going to be up there, let's at least not wonder. Let's prepare yourself and give yourself every opportunity.
"I did work real hard and have been committed from everything to diet to sleep to everything. I certainly gave myself every opportunity to succeed."