Roger that

Fed­erer wins record eighth Wimbledon with easy vic­tory over Cilic.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

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

That is when it hit him: His wait for record-break­ing No. 8 was over. Un­til then, Fed­erer wasn’t fo­cused on the no­tion of win­ning the grass-court tour­na­ment more of­ten than any other man in the his­tory of an event first held in 1877. All he’d been con­cerned with, con­sumed 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.

Fed­erer won his eighth Wimbledon tro­phy and 19th Grand Slam cham­pi­onship over­all by over­whelm­ing Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 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,” said Fed­erer, who will

turn 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 and 2007. He won again in 2009 and 2012. But then he lost fi­nals in 2014 and 2015 to No­vak Djokovic.

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 Fri­day, and that af­fected his abil­ity to move prop­erly or sum­mon the in­tim­i­dat­ing serves that car­ried him to his lone Grand Slam ti­tle at the 2014 U.S. Open, where he sur­pris­ingly 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.

It was Fed­erer, not Cilic, who dou­ble-faulted in his first two ser­vice games. And it was Fed­erer, not Cilic, 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

“It’s been a long road.” Roger Fed­erer on re­turn­ing from a sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee in 2016

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 cried while he was vis­ited by a doc­tor and trainer. 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 can­not 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 ced­ing a set. Against Cilic, he had 23 win­ners, only eight un­forced er­rors.

He’s not, of course, the same 21-year-old who had a pony­tail and scruff when he beat Mark Philip­pous­sis in the 2003 Wimbledon fi­nal. Or the teen who, two years ear­lier, beat Sam­pras him­self at 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. But it’s not quite like that here, so 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, I guess.”

AP/ALAS­TAIR GRANT

Roger Fed­erer (above) cel­e­brates af­ter de­feat­ing Marin Cilic to win the men’s sin­gles cham­pi­onship at Wimbledon on Sunday in London. Fed­erer, 35, is the old­est male cham­pion at the All Eng­land Club in the Open era, which be­gan in 1968. Wimbledon is the sec­ond Grand Slam ti­tle Fed­erer has won this year. He de­feated Rafael Nadal in the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal in Jan­uary.

AP/DANIEL LEAL-OLI­VAS

Marin Cilic (left) con­grat­u­lates Roger Fed­erer at the net af­ter Sunday’s sin­gles cham­pi­onship match at Wimbledon in London. Fed­erer won his 19th Grand Slam ti­tle.

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