New Delhi: Many wonder if he is an artist? Answer is probably yes, and on Sunday, he was at his best – once again conjuring tennis magic in front of a record Centre Court crowd at All England Club in London.
The occasion was 2017 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles final, which many considered the grandest of them all. His opponent, Marin Cilic – a Grand Slam winner and an outsider from Croatia – stood no chance against the Swiss maestro.
Unlike many of his previous Wimbledon finals, today’s title match failed to test the limit of his repertoire. But a disciplined performance was all that needed to win his eighth title on the hallowed Centre Court ground, and 19th Grand Slam singles title in an unrivaled career.
Federer, 35, took one hour and 43 minutes to send seventh seed Cilic packing in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in their eighth meeting on the tour, of which the Swiss maestro has won seven times. The lone blot coming in the US Open in 2014. Considering the distance the duo have went in their last meeting, in Wimbledon last year, fans expected a thriller akin the ones produced by Federer and Nadal previous finals.
But, today, it was all Federer. He thus moved past Britain’s William Renshaw and American Pete Sampras – on seven titles each at SW19 — as the most successful male player with eight trophies. Federer, since winning his first title here in 2003, has made it his favourite hunting ground with his incomparable serve and volley play.
Cilic, who won the US Open title in 2014, started the match on a confident note winning the first game on serve but lost his serve twice in the fifth and ninth game to concede the opening game. Unluckily for him, the set was decided by a double fault.
The 28-year-old then struggle with his fitness even as Federer continued to probe him with a wide array of ground strokes. In the second set, Federer consolidated with two breaks in second and sixth games, and won it 6-1 in just 25 minutes.
The script followed the same pattern in the third set. Cilic took another short break to tend to his trouble foot, but it was no use as Federer wrapped up the set 6-4.
Federer now is the oldest winner of the Challenge Cup since tennis turned professional in 1968. It’s one of the many records Federer holds. His Grand Slam haul includes eight Wimbledon, five US Open, one French Open and five Australia Open titles.
After winning fifth straight Wimbledon titles, from 2003 to 2007, Federer won two more titles in 2009 and 2012. Then, a presumed slump started to creep in his career. He lost back-to-back finals in 2014 and 15, to Novak Djokovic. And last year, he lost to Canadian Milos Raonic in the semis in five grueling sets.
Today’s straight sets win also meant that Federer becomes the only player other than Bjorn Borg to win Wimbledon without dropping a set. Borg achieved the feat in 1976.
But this is the second time that Federer has won a Grand Slam title without dropping a set, another record. He also won the 2007 Australian Open without losing a set.
Yes, he now joined his eternal rival Rafael Nadal to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam. No need to mention, but Nadal has 10 French Open titles.
The win helped Federer climb to 3rd place in ATP rankings, behind Murray and Rafael Nadal.
Cilic was hoping to become the first player outside of the ‘Big Four’ to win Wimbledon since 2002 when Lleyton Hewitt won, but it was not to be.