Ancic primed for showdown with ‘the real Roger Federer’

MARIO ANCIC expects to face the “real Roger Federer” in today’s Wimbledon quarter-final.

Ancic was the last player to beat Federer on grass, winning in straight sets in the first round here in 2002.

Since then Federer has won 63 consecutive matches on grass, including five Wimbledon titles, and gained his revenge over Ancic in the quarter-finals at the All England Club in 2006.

And Ancic is under no illusions about the size of the task facing him on Centre Court today.

“He was not Roger Federer at that time,” conceded the 24-year-old Croatian.

“It wasn’t Roger Federer as we know him today. It was the up-and-coming, top 10 player who was at that moment struggling in grand slams. I think from the year after, when he won Wimbledon, he exploded, and today he’s a completely different player.

“Of course it’s unbelievable that he hasn’t lost on grass since, but if it was not for that, I think people would pretty much forget about that win.”

Federer certainly has not forgotten about it and admits he underestimated Ancic to his cost.

“I’m just happy the way I’m playing, no real problems so far,” said Federer, seeking a record sixth straight title.

“I’ve been serving well, playing well, beating dangerous opponents such as Robin Soderling and Lleyton Hewitt.’’

Federer and Ancic will begin the day’s quarter-final action on Centre Court, followed by — weather permitting — Britain’s Andy Murray against two-time finalist Nadal.

Nadal admitted he was terrified the injury he sustained during Monday’s victory against Mikhail Youzhny would spell the end of his Wimbledon dream.

The match was just one game old when Nadal slipped at the back of the court and fell awkwardly, twisting his knee. His trainer strapped up his leg and he was able to continue, thrashing Youzny in straight sets. And despite limping at times on Court One, Nadal insists he will be fit to face Andy Murray. “I really thought I’d hurt myself badly at that point,” Nadal said.

“I thought I’d damaged a ligament because I heard a crack. I was really scared. They are moments of terror when everything goes through your head.

“But everything’s okay and we hope that tomorrow my leg will be okay.’’

Nadal revealed he is eagerly anticipating the clash with Murray, who pulled off a stunning comeback to defeat Richard Gasquet in five sets.

“Things are fine and I can’t wait to face Andy. I watched most of the last three sets of his match and I am looking forward to this battle.”

Murray for his part said that he “knew what he had to do” to beat the Spaniard.

Murray earned his place in the quarter-finals after coming back from two sets and a break of serve down to beat French eighth seed Richard Gasquet in a four-hour epic on Monday.

And the 12th seed was in no doubt about the task ahead of him.

“I know what I’ve got to do to beat Nadal and I am very focused on the game already,” he said.

“He’s for sure the best player in the world on clay and he’s getting better and better on grass every year.

“There are no real weaknesses in his game and he’s probably the toughest competitor on the tour.”

Meanwhile in the day’s other action on Court One, Spain’s 31st seed Feliciano Lopez takes on Marat Safin, followed by Rainer Schuettler against Arnaud Clement.

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