If it was ever in doubt, Roger Federer produced another exhibit in his case for being anointed Greatest Of All Time after winning a record eighth Wimbledon title.
His 6-3 6-1 6-4 victory in Sunday’s final over a physically compromised and emotionally overwhelmed Marin Ciic delivered Federer an incredible 19th major singles title, and second of 2017.
Federer now moves ahead of Williams Renshaw and Pete Sampras (both with seven wins) on the all-time Wimbledon singles champion list.
He won the 2017 Wimbledon title without dropping a set.
“I’ve gotta take more time off,” Federer joked at the trophy ceremony, a reference to the six months he took off in the second half of 2016 before returning to compile one of his finest seasons.
“Better than holding the trophy and winning today I guess is just being healthy … to be back here, and just feeling great and holding the trophy now, and the tournament I played, not dropping a set, it’s just magical, really I can’t believe it yet. It’s just too much really.
“It’s disbelief that I can achieve such heights. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be here again in another final after last year … I always believed that I could maybe come back and do it again. If you believe, you can go really far in your life.”
Cilic held a break point in the fourth game, and initially looked the more potent from the baseline.
But Federer saved it and in the next game won a sensational cat-and-mouse point during which both men scampered to the net to reach short balls, and Federer sliced a shot on the full stretch down the line for a winner and Cilic slipped on the grass. Unsettled, Cilic fired a shot long on the next point to trail 0-40, and would go on to drop serve.
That game was part of a momentous run for the Swiss, who from 2-1 down in the first set reeled off eight of the next nine games.
Trailing 6-3 3-0 and with his game collapsing, Cilic called for the trainer and openly sobbed in his courtside seat.
It was painful to watch.
Federer raced through the second set against his besieged opponent, who resorted to serving-and-volleying only to win a paltry one of eight points at net.
The Swiss took a two-sets-to-love lead in just 61 minutes.
Here, Cilic called for the trainer to have his already-taped left foot treated – for what turned out to be a painful blister.
Federer did a remarkable job to keep his concentration amid the drama and held serve routinely in the third set.
Two Cilic errors in the seventh game handed Federer a break and a 4-3 lead; he closed out the final three games later.
“That’s what I’ve done my whole career – I never give up. I gave my best and that’s all I could do,” said an emotional Cilic after receiving his finalist’s plate.
“I had an amazing journey. Played the best tennis of my life (this fortnight). I really wanna thank my team, they gave so much strength to me.”
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