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Home favourite awaits Federer

Henman booked an appointment with Federer after downing America's Todd Martin

(Keystone)

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer will have to overcome a fiercely partisan home crowd on Wednesday as he takes on Britain's Tim Henman in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

The British number one completed a five sets win over American veteran Todd Martin on Tuesday, having trailed by two sets to one when the match was interrupted by darkness on Monday evening.

As well as having strong crowd support on his side, Henman will be the likely favourite against Federer on account of his previous encounters with the Swiss teenager.

The British grass court specialist has won both of his meetings to date against Federer, including a straight sets victory in the Swiss player's own backyard at the Basel indoors tournament in 1999.

However, Federer is optimistic about his upcoming match.

"I'm not heading into the unknown, as I've already played against Henman," Federer explained. "I think I have a good chance, but I will have to be concentrated and strong," he added.

Though the Englishman is likely to receive a confidence boost from the huge home-crowd welcome when he faces Federer, Henman admitted he is expecting a tough match.

"I'd be stupid to think that this is going to be an easy match," said Henman, "because [Federer] is probably playing as well, if not better, than anyone else."

Federer's hopes of revenge seem far from slim, following his amazing performance in beating seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras on Monday.

"I think the Sampras match gave me as much confidence as I can get," said the Swiss teenager, "and after beating Pete I think I have a chance."

Clearly Federer still has a lot to do if he is to win his first ever Grand Slam title, but Tuesday's Swiss newspapers were in little doubt that his long talked of potential is close to being realised.

"Federer is one of the greats now," proclaimed the tabloid Blick in its appraisal of the win over Sampras. The Basler Zeitung was similarly upbeat, reporting how its homegrown hero had "broken the Sampras spell".

But after dethroning the king of Wimbledon, Federer must now overcome the tournament's regular pretender. The 26-year-old Henman is looking to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the third time in four years.

Encouragingly for Federer, perhaps, the British player was beaten on his two previous appearances in the last four by a certain Pete Sampras.

by Mark Ledsom


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