Federer Strolls To Historic Eighth Wimbledon Title
Roger Federer clinched a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 6-4 win over injured Marin Cilic. It is supposed to be difficult to win a Grand Slam title, but by winning in straight sets for the seventh consecutive match, the Swiss has made it look easy and is only the second man in the Open era to win at SW19 without dropping a set after Bjorn Borg achieved the same feat in 1976.
Largely due to the Croatian’s struggles with a bad blister, it was not the final fans were hoping to see, and it is highly doubtful many points will be fondly recounted by those who watched on Centre Court. Instead, what they will tell their children, grandchildren, friends, and strangers in years to come is this: “I was there to witness history. I was there when Federer won his eighth Wimbledon.” And that is unquestionably a special memory to have.
Even though it was a disappointing match, there were at least some flashes of quality on show from both players. Cilic made the early running as he used his powerful groundstrokes to earn his only break point of the match in the fourth game of the first set. However, Federer saved it by drilling the ball to the Croatian’s backhand to force him into an error and then breezed through the rest of the set. He finished it off with one of the shots of the match when he hit a backhand pass across court for a winner.
In the second set, Cilic was hampered so much by his foot injury that he could barely string a couple of good points together, and he seemed completely overwhelmed as he sat down and cried while the doctor attended to him after the third game. Consequently, he made a slew of unforced errors and lost the set 6-1. As soon as it was over, the doctor raced back on and applied pain killing spray and bandages to the Croatian’s foot so he could carry on.
With Cilic patched up, there was an upturn in the standard of the third set. The Croatian served well and hit some trademark groundstrokes to hold three times in a row. And Federer produced some of the most precise aces you will ever see, along with some of the glorious forehands and backhands we have become accustomed to seeing from him. However, arguably the best shot of the match was not even a winner, as the Swiss flicked a gorgeous backhand effortlessly into the corner and watched as his Croatian opponent could only parry it towards the stands.
All too soon the match was over after Cilic effectively broke himself in the seventh game of the third set by making two forehand unforced errors when he was 15-30 down. That left Federer with the simple task of holding serve twice to claim the title. He hit three unreturnable serves to secure the first hold, watched as Cilic produced an ace and three other unreturnable serves to hold at the other end, and then hit an ace and two unreturnable serves to earn two match points in game ten. The Swiss gratefully accepted the second as he sealed the match and the Championship in style with another unerring ace, before emotionally celebrating another major title.
Federer said, “I didn't think I was going to be this successful after beating Sampras here (in 2001). I hoped to have a chance 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, in my opinion. If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three, who think you're like a project. I was not that kid. I was just a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour. I dreamed, believed and hoped I could actually do it. So, I put in a lot of work, and it paid off.”
The Swiss explained his decision to take a break after last year’s tournament. He said, “It was all based on health. It wasn't about the game itself, how I should play when I came back to Wimbledon this year. It was all about putting myself in a good physical state so that I could compete with the best and play seven five-set matches. That was my goal and I achieved it. When I showed up here, I was already very happy.”
Federer hopes to come back next year. He said, “After the year I had last year, I do think probably a year ahead of time with my schedule of tournaments I would like to play. So I totally see myself playing here next year. But because it's far away, because of what happened last year, I just like to take the opportunity to thank people in the moment, and make them understand that, while I hope to come back, there's never a guarantee, especially not at 35, 36. But the goal is definitely to be here again next year to try and defend.”
The Swiss talked about what winning his eighth Wimbledon title means to him, “It is very special. Wimbledon was always my favorite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds and the courts here. Because of them, I think I became a better player. So, to mark history here at Wimbledon really means a lot to me because of all of that.’ He continued, ‘To be Wimbledon champion for an entire year now is something I can't wait to savor and enjoy.”
Federer also outlined the importance of his team’s support. He said, “I truly believed. It was important that my team believed as well. I need them to carry me most of the time because that's the few percent that the team makes a difference. When you doubt yourself, they reassure you. If you're feeling too good, they make sure you come back to planet earth.”
He continued, “I asked them sincerely if they thought I could win majors again and if I could win the biggest tournaments and against the best on a regular basis. And the answer was always the same: if you're 100% healthy, well-prepared and eager to play, then anything's possible. But if those components are not working, it's going to be extremely difficult. And that's how it played out, so they were right. I believed them. I had the same feeling.”
Federer was asked what makes him such a great player. He said, “At this stage it's consistency. I'm not shying away from the big stage. I've always been a big-stage player. I always felt like I played my best on the biggest courts. I struggled on Court 18. I just didn't feel I hit the ball as well there as on Centre Court. That was always going to serve me well if I played the best players or in the bigger matches.”
He continued, “I felt like I dreamed pretty big as a kid. I believed things were possible that others thought were never going to be achievable. That helped me. Then I trained really hard and very cleverly over the years. I go back to my first coach, to my coaches today, and the same thing with fitness all the way to today: I think every step of the way I always had the right people.”
“Then I’ve had wonderful people around me in my wife today, and my parents, who always kept me very grounded and made me the person I am. I guess I was blessed with a lot of talent, but I also had to work for it. Talent only gets you so far.”
Cilic was upset that he could not put in a better performance. He said, “(I was emotional because) I knew that I cannot give my best on court or play my best tennis, especially at this stage of my career and in such a big match. It was very, very difficult to deal with. (My blister) didn't hurt so much that it put me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn't able to give my best.”
The Croatian was asked what makes Federer one of the game’s greats. He said, “His ability and his desire to continue to improve is definitely one of the best in the game. Even at the age he is now, he's still improving, still challenging himself to get better. Congratulations to him and his team for finding ways to get him to another level. He had an unbelievable journey to the final here and today also played a great match. He is a great gentleman and one of the biggest ambassadors for tennis.”