Federer pleased to prove the doubters wrong
When Roger Federer ended Pete Sampras's 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in 2001 it seemed he was poised to become the heir to the American's throne.
Two years later, after numerous false dawns, it appears the gifted Swiss is finally ready to make the step up.
A first-round defeat by qualifier Mario Ancic at Wimbledon last year raised doubts about Federer's ability to translate his rare talent into major honours.
What a difference a year makes. Against fellow rising star Andy Roddick in Friday's semi-final the world number five produced scintillating tennis to win 7-6 6-3 6-3 and become the first Swiss man to reach a grand slam singles final.
A performance of similar brilliance against Australian Mark Philippoussis on Sunday would surely launch his career to new levels.
"You've only got so much talent, you need to do so much work on the side," the 21-year-old said when asked if Friday's performance was his best ever.
"I knew it was in me, but I didn't know what it takes, whether it is just work or just time. People were telling me it was going to happen quickly, especially after the Sampras match.
"After winning against Pete, I didn't believe I could be in the final two years later, even though people were predicting that. But I'm happy to put all the negative talkers who say I don't perform in slams in their corners.
"Today I proved how good I can play."
Roddick, who many predict will be Federer's main rival in years to come, needed no further proof after a one hour 43 minute masterclass.
At 5-3 in the second set Federer produced an exquisite angled drop volley, a booming ace, a belting forehand pass and a running cross court half volley which reduced the American to laughter.
"I don't know if there's anybody out there more talented, he's a great athlete, there's not much he doesn't have. Now it seems like he's putting it together upstairs," said Roddick.
Federer, who grew up idolising Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, says Friday's performance still does not compare to his defeat of Sampras.
"This match will not be able to top that one," he said. "That was my first appearance on Centre Court, five sets, you know that match had everything. The emotions were so high."
Victory on Sunday, however, when the whole of Switzerland will be glued to their television sets, would take some beating.
"I'm not at the end yet, I still have one match to go, but deep down I now know I can win big tournaments," he said. "I'm just looking forward to this because it's a dream to be in a grand slam final."