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Fed­erer downs Cilic to cap­ture eighth Wim­ble­don men’s cham­pi­onship

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY HOWARD FEN­DRICH

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.

AP PHOTO

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.

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