Federer on verge of history

DENIS POISSANT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

WIMBLEDON, England -- When a superstar like Rafael Nadal announced that he was pulling out of competition and wouldn't be able to defend his title, a distinct melancholy fell over Wimbledon, site of some of the most magical tennis moments in history.

Even Roger Federer seemed to be disappointed, admitting on the weekend that he would miss seeing, and likely playing against "Rafa".

The two champs have been fierce competitors on the courts in recent years, while at the same time developing a solid friendship off the court.

But still, the former Wimbledon champ knows that the absence of Nadal could open the door to history for him: 15 Grand Slam titles which would better the current mark held jointly by himself and Pete Sampras.

"That Rafa isn't here is really disappointing for me and for the tournament," said Federer who was more relaxed arriving at Wimbledon after his last victory at Roland-Garros. "Paris took a lot of pressure off."

A relaxed and focused Federer is sure to be a dangerous mix for anyone unfortunate enough to have to play him.

Serena Williams, who can be blunt with the best of them, summed up the situation well.

"I'm a big fan of Nadal," she said. "I was disappointed when I heard (he withdrew)."

She added she was sure there were plenty of players on the men's side who were celebrating after hearing the news.

Andy Murray, however, wasn't one of them.

The local favourite, who is now the second favourite to win the title, won't be celebrating Nadal's absence.

"He needs to do what's best for him," said the Scotland native.

But with Nadal out, the entire United Kingdom has only one wish: a Murray-Federer final.

Federer said Saturday that while it took Murray longer to become an elite player than he thought it would, he believes he is ready now.

"Everything is falling into place for him and he's been really solid for two years now."


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