Federer slams Murray's grand ambition

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Roger Federer, who knows all about winning Grand Slam singles titles and could claim a record 15th at Wimbledon this afternoon, said yesterday that Andy Murray has "put himself in a good position" to win a Slam in the near future. But the Swiss also warned that winning even one of the big four titles is tough and, in a sign that the Scot has maybe got under his skin, Federer stopped short of an enthusiastic endorsement of the British No1.

"[Murray] has put himself in a good position with all his wins in Masters [series events], being consistent, having a good record against top players, so things look good for him," said Federer. "But a Grand Slam is not something that comes very easily. It takes a lot of hard work. There are many young and hungry players out there. Rafa [Nadal] is gonna come back for the US Open and so forth. So, you know, it is not an easy thing to do, but he is definitely going to have his shot."

It is easy to see why Federer should relish facing Andy Roddick today. He has beaten the American 18 times in 20 meetings, including in the Wimbledon finals of 2004 and 2005. On the other hand, Federer's record against Murray is poor; six defeats in eight meetings. When asked if he had seen Roddick's semi-final win against Murray, Federer replied that it was always his belief that "the better player will come to the finals and challenge me".

Asked if he was disappointed not to be facing Murray, he was not convincing in replying: "Maybe a little bit." He added: "But then again, whoever won that semi-final deserved it more. It's the way it goes in tennis. Tennis is tough. Of course, I would have liked to play Murray here. But then again, I like playing Roddick, too. I'm just excited I'm in the final."

Federer said he thought that Nadal's absence had not deprived the tournament in any significant way, adding Murray had become the story of the fortnight. "If I or Rafa doesn't win the tournament, somebody will, and there will always be a story. I think the story definitely was Murray in this tournament because of where he comes from, because of how good his game's gotten, you know, that he had a real chance of winning here.

"I think that's why Rafa got forgotten quite quickly, to be honest."