Andy Murray's attempt to end three- quarters of a century without a home winner of the men's singles competition at the All England Club tomorrow will succeed or fail against a man who can not only credibly claim to be the best player in history of the sport, but one with whom he maintains an occasionally frosty personal history.
It is a match-up with a tantalising edge yet one which represents an enormous mental challenge for the 25-year-old from Dunblane. The Scot just shades the head-to-head record between the two, with eight wins to Roger Federer's seven, but two of those defeats have been humbling straight- sets losses in the finals of grand slam tournaments, at the US Open in 2008 and at last year's Australian Open.
Murray was reduced to tears after the latter defeat, telling the crowd, "I can cry like Roger, I just wish I could play like him". Meetings between the pair have been few since then as they tend to be kept apart by the seedings, with Federer ranked No.3 in the world and Murray one place below.
They last faced each other at an ATP Tour event in Dubai in March, when the Swiss won 7-5, 6-4. Federer is often mildly disparaging about Murray during press conferences but there was no sign of that in the wake of his stunning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory against Novak Djokovic yesterday. Instead, he merely said he looked forward to the challenge of taking on the Scot in his home grand slam, although he was hopeful the crowd at Centre Court tomorrow will not be all on Murray's side.
"I know how good Andy is," Federer said. "Finals are finals. I remember the losses I had against him in finals particularly in Shanghai [in 2012] where he crushed me, and in Toronto I believe it was. I had a good win against him in Dubai was on a quick court. But, honestly, we haven't played much in the last couple of years because of us being ranked three and four for some time.
"We've always ended up in Novak or Rafa's hands and one of us would win but not usually both, so we wouldn't see each other very often."
Reflecting of yesterday's triumph over the Serb, Federer added: "I did feel big crowd support towards the end. I felt like they really wanted me to win, which is obviously a nice feeling. I always say in whatever country I am I like to play the local hero, and Andy is that here at Wimbledon. It will be very special playing against him here. I hope I have some crowd support."
All things considered, not least the fact he had been knocked out in the quarter-finals here in each of the last two years, Federer was entitled to indulge himself a little yesterday.
This win booked his place in a record eighth Wimbledon final, and gives him the chance to equal Pete Sampras and William Renshaw's all-time best of seven wins at SW19 – not to mention extending his own record of grand slam wins to 17. Going on to lift the trophy would also enable the 30-year-old to unseat yesterday's opponent at the top of the rankings.
The Federer of yesterday is clearly a different animal from the one that crashed out to Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2010 and 2011. He and Djokovic had never met on grass before, rather remarkably considering they had played each other 26 times before and eight times in grand slam semi-finals.
Although Djokovic had won four of the pair's last five grand slam encounters, and fought back from match point down to crush Federer at last year's US Open, there was to be no repeat this time and a service winner at match point in the ninth game of the fourth set won the day for the Swiss in just two hours and 19 minutes. But Federer knows his task is not yet complete. "I didn't break down crying and fall to my knees as if I thought the tournament was over and I had achieved everything I ever wanted," he said.
Partial mitigation for Djokovic was the fact that he had been suffering from illness for "five or six" days, although he was loathe to make that an excuse. "He [Federer] was the better player in the most important moments," the 25-year-old said. "He was aggressive, hitting from both sides, and that is what you expect when you play Roger in the last four of a grand slam. But I expect things of myself too."
Federer lives on for his chance to emulate Messrs Sampras and Renshaw and to become top dog again. "There's a lot on the line for me," he said. "I've worked extremely hard since I lost that match point against Novak last year at the US Open. Now I have a chance at world No.1 and the title again all at once.
"So it's a big match for me and I hope I can keep my nerve. I'm sure I can – and then hopefully win the match. But we'll see about that."
Indeed we will.