Fed­erer wins at Wim­ble­don

Fed­erer downs Cilic to cap­ture eighth Wim­ble­don men’s cham­pi­onship

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - SPORTS - HOWARD FENDRICH

LON­DON — Roger Fed­erer’s wait for an eighth ti­tle at Wim­ble­don is over.

Fed­erer earned his eighth cham­pi­onship at the All Eng­land Club and 19th ma­jor tro­phy over­all. He capped a mar­vel­lous fort­night in which he never dropped a set by over whelm­ing Croa­t­ian Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 on Sun­day in a lop­sided fi­nal that was more coro­na­tion than con­test.

When it ended, with an ace from Fed­erer af­ter merely one hour 41 min­utes, he raised both arms over­head. A minute or so later, he was sit­ting on the side­line, wip­ing tears from his eyes.

Truly, the out­come was only in doubt for about 20 min­utes, the amount of time it took Fed­erer to grab his first lead. Cilic, whose left foot was treated by a trainer in the late go­ing, was never able to sum­mon the in­tim­i­dat­ing serves or crisp vol­leys that car­ried him to his lone Grand Slam ti­tle at the 2014 U.S. Open, where he sur­pris­ingly beat Fed­erer in straight sets in the semi­fi­nals.

This one was all Fed­erer, who last won Wim­ble­don in 2012.

That sev­enth cham­pi­onship pulled Fed­erer even with Pete Sam­pras and Wil­liam Ren­shaw in what’s still of­fi­cially called Gen­tle­men’s Sin­gles. Sam­pras won all but one of his in the 1990s; Ren­shaw won each of his in the 1880s, back in the days when the pre­vi­ous year’s cham­pion ad­vanced au­to­mat­i­cally to the fi­nal and there­fore was able to suc­cess­fully de­fend a ti­tle with one vic­tory.

Fed­erer had come close to bet­ter­ing his pre­de­ces­sors but couldn’t quite do it. He lost in the 2014 and 2015 Wim­ble­don fi­nals to No­vak Djokovic, and in the semi­fi­nals last year af­ter eras­ing match points to get past Cilic in a five-set quar­ter-fi­nal.

With clouds over­head and a bit of chill in the air, the very first game of­fered a glimpse at Cilic’s ap­par­ent plan: Go af­ter Fed­erer’s back­hand. All five points won by Cilic in that open­ing stanza came via mis­takes by Fed­erer on that stroke. Con­versely, all three points won by Fed­erer in that game were thanks to fore­hand mis­cues by Cilic.

Un­der­stand­ably, there were signs of nerves for both.

Fed­erer’s early play, in gen­eral, was symp­to­matic of jit­ters. For ev­ery­thing he’s ac­com­plished, for all of the bright lights and big set­tings to which he’s be­come ac­cus­tomed, the guy many have called the “GOAT” — Great­est of All Time — ad­mits to feel­ing heavy legs and jum­bled thoughts at im­por­tant on-court mo­ments to this day.

And so it was that Fed­erer, not Cilic, hit a dou­ble-fault in each of his first two ser­vice games. And it was Fed­erer, not Cilic, who faced the match’s ini­tial break point, 15 min­utes in, trail­ing 2-1 and 30-40. But Cilic net­ted a re­turn there, be­gin­ning a run of 17 points in a row won by Fed­erer on his serve.

It was as if the first in­di­ca­tion of the slight­est bit of trou­ble jolted Fed­erer.

In the very next game, Fed­erer broke to lead 3-2 with the help of three er­rors by Cilic and one mar­vel­lous point. Cilic tried a drop shot, Fed­erer got to it and replied at a tight an­gle. Cilic got that and of­fered a slick re­sponse of his own but slipped and fell to the court, al­low­ing Fed­erer to flip a win­ner, elic­it­ing roars from the crowd.

Fed­erer broke again to take that set when Cilic dou­ble-faulted, walked to the changeover and slammed his racket on his side­line chair. Cilic then sat and cov­ered his head with a white towel.

Af­ter Fed­erer raced to a 3-0 lead in the sec­ond set, Cilic cried while he was vis­ited by a doc­tor and trainer. At that mo­ment, it wasn’t clear, ex­actly, what might have been ail­ing Cilic. Dur­ing a later med­i­cal time­out, Cilic’s left foot was re-taped by the trainer.

Fed­erer would break to a 4-3 edge in the third set and all that re­mained to find out was how he’d fin­ish. It was with his eighth ace, at 114 mph, and he raised both arms over­head.

This caps a re­mark­able re­boot for Fed­erer, who de­parted Wim­ble­don a year ago with a lot of doubts. He had lost in the semi­fi­nals, yes, but more trou­ble­some was that his body was let­ting him down for the first time in his ca­reer.

Ear­lier in 2016, he had surgery on his left knee, then sat out the French Open be­cause of a bad back, end­ing a record streak of par­tic­i­pat­ing i n 65 con­sec­u­tive Grand Slam tour­na­ments. Then, af­ter Wim­ble­don, he did not play at all the rest of the year, skip­ping the Rio Olympics, the U.S. Open and ev­ery­thing else in an at­tempt to let his knee fully heal.

It worked. Did it ever.

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