LONDON - After moving within a victory of his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, Roger Federer found time to catch only a few games of Rafael Nadal's semifinal.
Federer does have a DVD of Nadal's match, but he wasn't exactly rushing to use it for scouting purposes before they meet today for the Wimbledon championship.
"I know plenty already," Federer said. "I'll watch more if I think I have to, but at the moment, I think I know everything that I need to."
He certainly should. After all, this encounter will be the sixth Grand Slam title match between the No. 1-ranked Federer and No. 2 Nadal, more than for any other pair of men in the 40-year Open era.
"I think it's quite incredible, myself," Federer said, "that we've played each other so many times on so many big occasions."
While he isn't exactly sure where their rivalry stands in tennis annals, when discussing it Saturday, Federer did toss around names such as Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Agassi, and Sampras.
"I don't know how it will be looked at in many years' time, because at the moment, you are right in it, and you try to win the matches that come along against your main rival. It's hard," Federer said. "I know it's something special what we're going through at the moment."
They met in the past three French Open finals, with Nadal winning each time.
And now they will meet in their third consecutive Wimbledon final, with Federer holding a 2-0 edge, part of his record-tying streak of five titles in a row at the All England Club.
Some significant milestones are at stake today.
Federer, who tied Bjorn Borg's modern mark of five Wimbledon titles last year, is trying to become the first man since the 1880s to win six consecutive Wimbledon championships. When Willie Renshaw collected six successive titles from 1881-86, though, he had to play only one match during each of his defenses because the reigning champion was given a bye to the final then.
Nadal, for his part, is aiming to become the first man since Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season.
"Both Federer and Nadal are hungry," said Borg. "Nadal for the last two years has lost in the final and I know he wants to win this one very badly. Roger wants to win it six in a row, but he is not satisfied. He wants to win more Wimbledons, more grand slams."
Nadal leads the head-to-head series, 11-6, though away from clay, Federer leads, 5-2. It will be the 14th Federer-Nadal matchup in a tournament final, putting the pair fourth in Open era history, behind only Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (20); Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras (16); Boris Becker vs. Stefan Edberg (16); and Jimmy Connors vs. McEnroe (15).
Given that Federer is only 26 years old, and Nadal 22, they could be adding to their total for some time.
In the 2006 Wimbledon final, Federer beat Nadal in four sets. Last year, they went five sets, and Nadal came close to breaking through, earning four break points in the fifth set but failing to convert any.
If Nadal appears to be getting closer to Federer on grass, the gap seems to be widening on clay. In last month's French Open final, Nadal dropped only four games while handing Federer his worst loss in a Grand Slam match.
"Beating me or beating Rafa in a Grand Slam final, you can really say the guy deserved to win," Federer said. "Beating your main rival is always a big thrill."