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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Roger ready to rewrite records
By Caroline Cheese

Roger Federer

Roger Federer is not frightened to admit that history is within his grasp.

His third straight Wimbledon title was his fifth Grand Slam crown, his 21st consecutive victory in a final and his 32nd match without defeat on grass.

Understandably, he has stopped bothering with false modesty.

When asked on Sunday whether he could eclipse Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, he said: "I feel like I've put myself into position.

"This was a very big tournament for me. Obviously to get the fifth Grand Slam, but also the third Wimbledon. I knew the importance of this one, so I was pretty tense going into it.

"Obviously, for the next few years I'll also definitely be a huge favourite for this tournament."

With the hat-trick under his belt, Federer can now target Sampras' four in a row and Borg's record five.

At 23, the Swiss is also on track to eclipse Sampras' total of seven Wimbledon crowns and 14 Grand Slam titles.

At the same age, Sampras had won one more major and had also triumphed three times at the All England Club.

6--------Grand Slams---------5
3------Wimbledon titles------3
34-------Total titles----------30

The American, who is almost exactly 10 years older than Federer, has already tipped his successor as the world's dominant force to emulate his achievements.

"I think he can dominate tennis for as long as I did," Sampras said last year. "He is head and shoulders above the rest."

Federer is compared to Sampras more than any other player, probably because the American is still fresh in people's memories.

Boris Becker told BBC Sport on Sunday he thought Sampras would currently edge out Federer in five sets if both met at the height of their powers - though he did qualify that by suggesting his verdict might change as and when Federer accumulates more titles.

But Federer's coach, Tony Roche, believes his pupil is actually more like fellow Australian Rod Laver, who for many remains the greatest player of all time.

"Like Rod, Roger has the skills with so many options and a wonderful variation of strokeplay," said Roche.

"He can rally from the baseline, use the slice and drop shots and play the winning volley. I haven't seen such a complete player around for so long and I'd put him up there with Laver."

Laver himself said he would be "honoured" to be compared to Federer in terms of talent.

"He is capable of anything," said the 66-year-old. "Roger could be the greatest tennis player of all time."

I definitely feel there's room for improvement
Roger Federer

But while Laver twice won all four Grand Slam titles in a season, that feat has so far eluded Federer.

To that end, Federer employed Roche on a part-time basis at the start of the season after spending all of last year without a coach.

Roche's 1966 triumph at the French Open, a tournament Federer has struggled at, was thought to be key in his appointment - a sign that the Swiss still sees weaknesses in his game.

Even on grass, a surface on which he has not been beaten since 2002, Federer has identified improvements he could make.

Roger Federer
Federer is working with Tony Roche to improve his game

"I definitely feel there's room for improvement," Federer told BBC Five Live on Sunday.

"I would love to have volleyed better and be more at the net and finish off more points at the net.

"But it seems in this era it's very difficult because the guys just return and pass so well these days."

Even if Federer retired tomorrow however, his performance against Andy Roddick in Sunday's final would stand as evidence that he may be the most talented player in history.

Renowned coach Nick Bollettieri says Federer "moves like a whisper and executes like a wrecking ball. It is simply impossible to explain how he does what he does."

John McEnroe, whose tennis idol was Laver, said: "He is the greatest natural talent in tennis I've ever seen. I love to watch the guy play, he's an awesome talent."

High praise indeed, but in Federer's case, entirely deserved.

Report: Federer still has 'huge motivation'

Highlights: Federer v Roddick

Interview: Wimbledon champion Roger Federer

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