Swiss su­per­star sur­prised by age-de­fy­ing achieve­ments

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

Roger Fed­erer said on Sun­day he never thought he’d be a record eight-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion and would even have laughed if he was told he’d win two ma­jors in 2017.

It was 16 years ago that Fed­erer de­feated Sam­pras at Wim­ble­don to an­nounce him­self as a star in the mak­ing.

How­ever, it wasn’t un­til 2003 that he cap­tured his first All Eng­land Club ti­tle.

Now he has 19 ma­jors, four clear of clos­est ri­val Rafael Nadal on the all-time list.

“I didn’t think I was go­ing to be this suc­cess­ful af­ter beat­ing Pete here,” said Fed­erer who also won a fifth Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

“I hoped to have a chance maybe one day to be in a Wim­ble­don fi­nal and have a chance to win the tour­na­ment.

“Win­ning eight is not some­thing you can ever aim for. If you do, you must have so much tal­ent and par­ents and the coaches that push you from the age of 3 on, who think you’re like a project. I was not that kid.”

Fed­erer had been writ­ten off as a faded force when he was knocked out of Wim­ble­don in the semi­fi­nals by Canada’s Mi­los Raonic last year.

But his Aus­tralian Open tri­umph led to back-to-back Masters at In­dian Wells and Mi­ami be­fore he skipped the clay­court sea­son.

A ninth Halle grass­court ti­tle fol­lowed and on Sun­day his record tri­umph in south­west Lon­don took his ca­reer tro­phy col­lec­tion to a stag­ger­ing 93.

Sun­day’s straight-sets cruise against Marin Cilic meant he was the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win Wim­ble­don with­out drop­ping a set.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly sur­prised how well this year is go­ing, how well I’m feel­ing, how I’m man­ag­ing tougher sit­u­a­tions, where my level of play is on a daily ba­sis,” added Fed­erer.

“I am sur­prised that it’s this good. I knew I could do great again maybe one day, but not at this level.

“So I guess you would have laughed, too, if I told you I was go­ing to win two Slams this year.

“Peo­ple wouldn’t be­lieve me if I said that. I also didn’t be­lieve that I was go­ing to win two this year.”

The Swiss great also in­sisted he fully in­tends to de­fend his Wim­ble­don ti­tle in 2018.

“We never know what hap­pens,” said the Swiss star, who had told the crowd in his vic­tory speech: “I hope to be back, I hope this wasn’t my last match”.

He later clar­i­fied his re­marks, telling re­porters: “Hon­estly, ever since I had the year I had last year, I think a year ahead of time, you know, with my sched­ule, fit­ness sched­ule, tour­na­ments I would like to play.

“So I to­tally see my­self play­ing here this time next year.

“There’s never a guar­an­tee, es­pe­cially not at 35, 36. But the goal is def­i­nitely to be here again next year to try to de­fend.”

TIM IRE­LAND / AP

Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer

ALAS­TAIR GRANT / AP

Roger Fed­erer kisses the Wim­ble­don tro­phy on Sun­day.

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