Fed­erer roars into record books by mak­ing quick work of hob­bled Cilic

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Af­ter Roger Fed­erer smashed an ace to close out a Wim­ble­don fi­nal that was more of a corona­tion than a con­test, he sat in his chair and wiped away tears.

That’s when it hit him. His wait for record-break­ing eighth ti­tle was over.

Un­til then, Fed­erer wasn’t fo­cused on the no­tion of win­ning the grass­court tour­na­ment more times than any other man in the his­tory of an event first held in 1877.

All he’d been con­cerned with was be­ing healthy enough to com­pete at a high level and, he hoped, to win a ti­tle, re­gard­less of what the to­tal count would be.

Cap­ping a mar­velous two weeks in which he never dropped a set, Fed­erer won his eighth Wim­ble­don tro­phy and 19th Grand Slam cham­pi­onship by tak­ing just 101 min­utes to over­whelm Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 on Sun­day.

“Wim­ble­don was al­ways my fa­vorite tour­na­ment. Will al­ways be my fa­vorite tour­na­ment.

“My he­roes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here. Be­cause of them, I think I be­came a bet­ter player, too,” added Fed­erer, who turns 36 next month and is the old­est male cham­pion at the All Eng­land Club in the Open era, which be­gan in 1968.

“To mark his­tory here at Wim­ble­don re­ally means a lot to me just be­cause of all of that, re­ally,” he said. “It’s that sim­ple.”

His first ma­jor ti­tle came at Wim­ble­don in 2003, and was fol­lowed by oth­ers in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012. But then there were fi­nal de­feats to No­vak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015.

He couldn’t be sure an­other fi­nal, let alone ti­tle, was pos­si­ble a year ago, when he lost in the semi­fi­nals, then took the rest of 2016 off to let his sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee heal.

“It’s been a long road,” he said.

Sun­day’s out­come was only in doubt for about 20 min­utes, the amount of time it took Fed­erer to grab his first lead.

Cilic said af­ter­ward he de­vel­oped a painful blis­ter on his left foot dur­ing his semi­fi­nal on Fri­day, which af­fected his abil­ity to move prop­erly or sum­mon the in­tim­i­dat­ing serves that car­ried him to his lone Grand Slam ti­tle at the 2014 US Open, where he beat Fed­erer in the semi­fi­nals.

This one was all Fed­erer, who had been tied at seven cham­pi­onships 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, when the pre­vi­ous year’s win­ner ad­vanced au­to­mat­i­cally to the fi­nal.

With clouds over­head and a bit of chill in the air on Sun­day, Fed­erer’s early play 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 la­beled “GOAT” — great­est of all time — ad­mits to feel­ing heavy legs and jum­bled thoughts to this day.

It was Fed­erer, not Cilic, who dou­ble-faulted in his first two ser­vice games. And it was Fed­erer who faced the ini­tial break point, in the fourth game. But Cilic net­ted a re­turn, be­gin­ning a run of 17 points in a row won by Fed­erer on his serve. He would never be con­fronted with an­other break point.

“I gave it my best,” Cilic said. “That’s all I could do.”

In the next game, Fed­erer broke to lead 3-2. He broke again to take that set when Cilic dou­ble-faulted, walked to the changeover and slammed his racket. Cilic sat and cov­ered his head with a white towel.

With Fed­erer up 3-0 in the sec­ond set, Cilic shed tears while he was vis­ited by a doc­tor and trainer.

My he­roes walked the grounds and walked the courts here. Be­cause of them, I be­came a bet­ter player, too.” Roger Fed­erer, on his spe­cial con­nec­tion with Wim­ble­don Name: Roger Fed­erer World rank­ing: 3 Date of birth: Aug 8, 1981 Place of birth: Basel, Switzer­land

Place of res­i­dence: Bottmin­gen, Switzer­land Height: 6-foot-1 Turned pro: 1998 Ca­reer sin­gles ti­tles: 93 Grand Slam ti­tles: 19 (Aus­tralian Open 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017; French Open 2009, Wim­ble­don 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017; US Open 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Ca­reer prize money: $107,326,692

He said that was not so much a re­sult of his foot’s pain as the idea that he could not play well enough to present a chal­lenge.

“Very tough emo­tion­ally,” said Cilic, whose foot was re-taped by a trainer af­ter the sec­ond set. “I knew that I could not give my best on the court.” It might not have mat­tered. Fed­erer was, as he’d been all tour­na­ment, flaw­less, the first man in 41 years to win Wim­ble­don with­out con­ced­ing a set. Against Cilic, he had 23 win­ners, only eight un­forced er­rors.

It capped a re­mark­able re­boot for Fed­erer, who de­parted Wim­ble­don a year ago with a lot of doubts. His body was let­ting him down, he skipped the Rio Olympics, the US Open and ev­ery­thing else in an at­tempt to try to get healthy. It worked. And how. Feel­ing re­freshed and fully fit, Fed­erer re­turned to the tour in Jan­uary and was sud­denly play­ing like the guy of old, rather than like an old guy.

In a turn-back-the-clock mo­ment, he faced ri­val Rafael Nadal in the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal and, with a fifth-set come­back, won.

It was Fed­erer’s 18th Grand Slam ti­tle, adding to his own record, and first in nearly five years. Those who had writ­ten him off needed to grab their erasers.

The for­mula made sense, clearly, so why not try it again? Fed­erer skipped this year’s clay-court cir­cuit to be in top shape for the grass courts he loves so dearly. Sun­day’s vic­tory made Fed­erer 31-2 in 2017, with a tour-lead­ing five ti­tles.

“On one side, yes, it sur­prises me. On the other side, I know he’s able to do so many things, so it’s not sur­pris­ing to me,” coach Sev­erin Luthi said. “But when it hap­pens, it’s amaz­ing.”

Yes, Fed­erer is back to be­ing supreme in ten­nis, lord­ing over the sport the way no man ever has. And yet, his game has changed.

He’s not, of course, the same pony­tailed 21-year-old who beat Mark Philip­pous­sis in the 2003 Wim­ble­don fi­nal. Or the teenager who, two years ear­lier, beat Sam­pras on Cen­tre Court in the fourth round, their only tour-level meet­ing.

Fed­erer’s hair is cropped, his face clean shaven. He’s a fa­ther of four, and both sets of twins — boys, 3, in their light blue blaz­ers; girls, 7, in their dresses — were in the guest box for Sun­day’s tro­phy cer­e­mony.

One son stuck a cou­ple of fin­gers in his mouth un­til a sis­ter grabbed his hand.

“They have no clue what’s go­ing on; they think it’s prob­a­bly a nice view and a nice play­ground to come to watch daddy. But one day, hope­fully, they’ ll un­der­stand,” Fed­erer said about his boys.

As for the girls, he said: “They en­joy to watch a lit­tle bit. They come for the fi­nals.”

When daddy is Roger Fed­erer, you can wait un­til the last Sun­day to show up.

cel­e­brates de­feat­ing Croa­tia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to win his record eighth Wim­ble­don men’s sin­gles ti­tle in Lon­don on Sun­day.

“A record 8 Wim­ble­don cham­pi­onships and a life­time of be­ing a cham­pion on and off the court and @rogerfed­erer is the great­est of all time.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.