Fed­erer, a gi­ant through the ages, wins again … at 35

Ten­nis sen­sa­tion tri­umphs at Wim­ble­don for the eighth time

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CHUCK CULPEPPER

WIM­BLE­DON, ENG­LAND — Wim­ble­don ended in a mud­dle.

Mo­men­tously, Roger Fed­erer surfed an­other crest in a stag­ger­ing ten­nis ca­reer.

La­mentably, he did so while his gi­ant op­po­nent reeled with one of the lousi­est lit­tle things in all of hu­man life: a foot blis­ter.

Mo­men­tously, Fed­erer, who won Wim­ble­don at 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 and 30, won it again Sun­day at 35.

The tri­umph fur­ther crammed his name into a record book where it ap­pears al­most as ram­pantly as in a biog­ra­phy.

La­mentably, it came with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 match that quickly de­flated and then ca­reened un­til Marin Cilic got to a changeover in the sec­ond set and sobbed.

Mo­men­tously, Fed­erer snared a male-record eighth Wim­ble­don sin­gles ti­tle, be­came the oldest Wim­ble­don cham­pion of the Open Era, be­came the oldest Grand Slam cham­pion since Ken Rose­wall in 1972 and said, “My he­roes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here.”

La­mentably, Cilic came off two re­cent-years Grand Slam matches with Fed­erer in which Cilic was the bet­ter player all told, and wound up say­ing he wept over “a feel­ing that I knew that I can­not give my best on the court, that I can­not give my best game and my best ten­nis, es­pe­cially at this stage of my ca­reer, at such a big match.”

And: “I know how much it took for me to get here.”

Fed­erer cor­ralled a record 19th Grand Slam ti­tle, took a sec­ond Grand Slam this sea­son and ar­ranged for an ar­rival in New York in late Au­gust with a stun­ning yet re­al­is­tic chance at 20 — which would have seemed far-fetched only six months ago.

Yet did so with a muted re­sponse to his 114-m.p.h. ace up the mid­dle on match point, for the out­come long since had con­gealed. What con­fu­sion. Even Cen­tre Court stopped its cus­tom­ary wor­ry­ing for Fed­erer and be­gan to try to bol­ster the help­less Cilic.

“I want to thank the phys­ios here,” Cilic said with his re­puted grace, call­ing them by first names.

“They helped. The last 30 hours, they were just con­stantly al­most with me.

“They did as much as they could, but un­for­tu­nately I still feel the pain.

“Ev­ery time I had to do a re­ac­tion fast, fast change of move­ment, I was un­able to do that.”

But then, it fit that this Wim­ble­don would go out limp­ing, for it had staged a two-week limp-fest, es­pe­cially on the male end.

It be­came an epit­ome of the hard­ness of the game upon the hu­man frame.

Seven play­ers re­tired in firstround matches, one in the sec­ond round, one in the third, one in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

Two gi­ants, No­vak Djokovic and Andy Mur­ray, looked hurt enough that their po­ten­tial U.S. Open par­tic­i­pa­tion al­ready lurks in ques­tion.

Yet atop the bale of ban­dages stood a 35-year-old global star.

“Win­ning eight is not some­thing you can ever aim for, in my opin­ion,” he said.

“If you do, I don’t know, you must have so much ta­lent and par­ents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you’re like a project.

“I was not that kid. I was re­ally just a nor­mal guy grow­ing up in Basel (Switzer­land), hop­ing to make a ca­reer on the ten­nis tour.

“I guess I dreamed, I be­lieved, and re­ally hoped that I could ac­tu­ally maybe re­ally do it, you know, to make it real.”

A dandy point came in Cilic’s ser­vice game at 2-2 and love-15 in the first set, when both play­ers wound up near the net, Cilic played a cun­ning back­hand cross to the dou­bles line, and Fed­erer re­trieved that to di­rect it into the open court to rous­ing ap­plause.

A Fed­erer back­hand drop shot in the sev­enth game seemed to yearn for a string quar­tet at court­side.

It flut­tered neatly over the net and sat down to ac­cept its ap­plause.

At 3-5, 30-all, with Cilic serv­ing, two Fed­erer back­hands in a row seemed so rocket-launched that the crowd gasped.

TIM IRE­LAND, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Roger Fed­erer cel­e­brates with the tro­phy af­ter beat­ing Marin Cilic in the men’s sin­gles fi­nal at Wim­ble­don.

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