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Federer out to set record straight with Ancic

Written by: Staff

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) World number one Roger Federer will come face to face with the last man to beat him on a grasscourt when he takes on towering Croat Mario Ancic in the Wimbledon quarter-finals tomorrow.

That shock straight sets defeat in 2002 was a huge blow to the emerging Swiss and raised doubts over his ability to translate his special talents into grand slam glory.

Those doubts were erased 12 months later when Federer returned to the All England Club to sweep all before him and become the first Swiss man to win a grand slam title.

Federer, with a record 45 consecutive victories on the surface, is now the game's dominant force and closing in on his fourth Wimbledon title.

But he is wary of the 22-year-old Ancic, a player finally beginning to deliver on his early promise.

''Ancic has obviously got the grasscourt expertise,'' Federer said, looking ahead to their fifth career meeting. ''It's gonna be a tough match.

''We just played each other at the French Open. Obviously, that's very different to what we're going to see here.

''The big memory is that he's the last player I lost to on a grass court.'' Ancic grew up in Split watching Goran Ivanisevic become a national hero with several Wimbledon final defeats before eventually beating Pat Rafter to win the 2001 title.

The nickname Baby Goran might have worn a bit thin now but the 1.96 metre tall Ancic does have certain similarities with the original, namely a lethal serve.

BIG-MATCH NERVE In other respects he is probably a more complete player than Ivanisevic with a solid volley and penetrating groundstrokes, although some have questioned his big-match nerve.

A semi-finalist here in 2004 when he lost to Andy Roddick, Ancic won the deciding rubber in Croatia's Davis Cup final triumph in Slovakia last year.

That moment installed a sense of belief into Ancic and he has enjoyed his best year on tour, rising to a career-high 10th in the rankings with a string of good performances.

His five-set victory against Serb teenager Novak Djokovic in the fourth round was real test of character and he is now setting his sights on the imperious Federer.

''It's great to have a chance again on such a big stage to play against Roger,'' said Ancic.

''For me it's a great feeling that I showed again that at the end of the tournament I'm playing against a great player. That's my main goal.'' Ancic feels the best way to play Federer, who has won their three subsequent meetings, is to attack.

''It's serve and volley,'' he said. ''I'm gonna mix it up but I obviously have to play my game.

''I came so far to quarters like that and I don't see a reason to change it.'' Whoever wins will be odds on to reach the final, with Czech Radek Stepanek or veteran Swede Jonas Bjorkman waiting in the semi-final.


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