WIMBLEDON, England - Add up all of Roger Federer's greatness on grass courts, and the numbers are striking: 40 wins in a row at Wimbledon, 65 overall on the surface.
Now he seeks an additional victory, a victory that would make him the first man since the 1880s to win six consecutive Wimbledon titles, a victory that would give him a 13th Grand Slam championship, one shy of Pete Sampras' career record.
And a victory that would have to come against his only real rival in today's game, Rafael Nadal.
No. 1 Federer and No. 2 Nadal set up their third straight showdown in the Wimbledon final, and sixth meeting in a major title match, by handily beating unseeded opponents Friday. Federer eliminated Marat Safin 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first semifinal, and Nadal defeated Rainer Schuettler 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
'There's one more left,' Federer said. 'I don't think it matters really a lot if I'm the favorite or not. I'm on an incredible winning streak on grass. First somebody has to be able to break that before we start talking differently.'
He reached his 16th Grand Slam final, tying him with Bjorn Borg for fourth most in history. Borg was the last man to win Wimbledon five years in a row. The only man with six successive titles was Willie Renshaw from 1881-86, but he merely needed to win one match in each of his five title defenses because back then the reigning champion got a bye directly into the final.
'A little different,' Federer noted.
On the other hand, the ease with which Federer dominates the All England Club these days sort of makes it seem as though he's getting a pass to the second Sunday. For the second time in three years, he's reached the final without losing a set.
'He didn't even give me a chance,' said Safin, a former No. 1 with two major titles.