By Ed Osmond
LONDON (Reuters) - Preparing for what could be the defining moment of his career, Andy Murray believes he will be under less pressure in the Wimbledon final on Sunday because he is playing 16-times grand slam champion Roger Federer.
The majority of the 15,000 fans with a golden ticket for Sunday's final, not to mention the millions glued to television screens around the country, will be willing Murray to become the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men's singles for 76 years.
Swiss maestro Federer, who boasts a global army of admirers, will be chasing a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon crown and a return to the top spot in the ATP rankings.
It looks a dream scenario and Murray, the first British man to reach the final since Bunny Austin in 1938, said he is glad it is Federer facing him over the net.
"It's a great challenge, one where I'm probably not expected to win the match, but one that if I play well, I'm capable of winning," Murray said.
"There will be less pressure on me on Sunday because of who he is."
Federer, who will reach another couple of landmarks if he beats Murray, equaling the seven men's singles titles of Pete Sampras as well as the 286 weeks the American spent at world No.1, produced a brilliant performance to beat 2011 champion Novak Djokovic and reach his eighth Wimbledon final.
After falling in the quarter-finals in the last two years, Federer said it was good to be back on the stage he is graced on the final Sunday for much of the past decade.
"All I hoped for was a good match from me, to be quite honest, to give myself a chance to be in the finals and have a shot at the trophy again really," Federer said.
"I missed being in the finals here the last couple years obviously."
Federer said losing in the quarter-finals last year to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after being two sets up had been tough to take.
"I played so well against Tsonga it was a hard one to sort of accept to lose. You have to wait another year for your chance, and now I am finally back in that final. So it's great."
Murray enjoys an 8-7 lead over Federer in their previous meetings but the Swiss beat him in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open finals and the Briton is under no illusions about the size of the task facing him as he tries to win a maiden major title.
"He's obviously one of the greatest players ever to have played," said fourth seed Murray who beat Tsonga in a gripping four-set semi-final.
"I'd be surprised if he wasn't the best in terms of his win/loss ratio here.
"He's been doing it consistently over a number of years. The matches he has lost the last couple of years was five sets against Tsonga, five sets against Berdych, five sets against Rafa. He's very, very tough to beat here."
Federer, 30, has lost only once in seven Wimbledon finals, an epic five-set battle against Rafa Nadal in 2008, and he is excited by the prospect of playing home favorite Murray.
"He's only going to get better as time goes by. That's what he's been proving," Federer said. "He's actually handled it very well from what I've seen from afar.
"I always say in whatever country I am I like to play the local hero and Andy is exactly that here at Wimbledon.
"I hope I have some crowd support, but it's not the most important thing right now."
(Editing by Martyn Herman)