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Federer downs Cilic to capture eighth Wimbledon men’s championship
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 overwhelming 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.
Roger Federer celebrates with the trophy after beating Marin Cilic in the Men’s Singles final match on day thirteen at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on Sunday.