Roger Federer Seals Historic Eighth Wimbledon Title With Win Over Ailing Cilic

Roger Federer (zimbio.com)

Roger Federer has become the first man in history to win an eighth Wimbledon title after easing his way past an injury-stricken Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, in the final of the championships.

There was hope that the clash between the two would be one to remember. Federer is regarded by many as the greatest player to ever play at The All England Club. His rival Cilic was by no means a walkover. Their meeting 12 months ago saw the 35-year-old save three match points before prevailing in a five-set thriller. This time round, there was no closeness between the two as Cilic’s body betrayed him in one the biggest finals of his life.

“It is cruel sometimes, but he fought well. He’s a hero.” Federer said to his opponent during the trophy ceremony. “Congratulations on a wonderful tournament Marin. You should be really proud, it is a special occasion to play in the final.”

Contesting a record-equalling 102nd Wimbledon match, the start saw both men experience nerves. Cilic repeatedly bounced the ball before serving to calm himself down as Federer took a while to fine tune his game. From only the second game, shouts of ‘Chum Jetzte’ (Swiss-German for ‘come on’) roared from Federer’s mouth to show he means business. The early test for the 35-year-old occurred in the fifth game when Cilic grabbed a break point opportunity. Surviving the scare after the Croat hit a backhand into the net, Federer rose his form. In the following game he raced to three break points in his advantage, converting his second for a 3-2 lead.

Clinching a stronghold in the set, Federer refused to let go with two consecutive love-service games. Then on the 36th minute of the match, the former world No.1 was gifted the 6-3 lead following a double fault from his rival. Prompting a cheer from the full capacity crowd at SW19.

The mood of the match swiftly moved from admiration for Federer to sympathy for Cilic. As the Swiss broke at the start of the second set, Cilic received a medical time out. He was on the verge of tears as a medical team went out to evaluate his foot. He managed to continue the match, but he knew the prospect of a maiden Wimbledon title was rapidly fading.

Strolling through the second set, another error from the Croat secured another break in Federer’s favour for 5-1. It was like a repeat of Saturday’s women’s final, which started competitively before Garbine Muguruza thrashed Venus Williams. With his injury-stricken opponent far off his best ability, a serve down the line moved Federer to six games away from history.

Cilic’s continuous resilience drew praise from the crowd, who were noticeably pro-Federer. His reward was a tightly contested battle at the start of the third set with the third seed being forced to work for the title.

“That’s what I have done throughout all of my career. I never gave up when I start the match. That was my idea today and I also gave my best. That’s all I could have done. “ A devastated Cilic said after the final.

Still, it was only a matter of time before another Federer triumph. At 3-3, back-to-back errors from Cilic’s forehand side gave the Swiss a break for 4-3 as he closed in on the title. History was  made two games later when Federer fired an ace down the line to become the most decorated male player in Wimbledon history.

“I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be here again in the final after last year.” He said.
“I always believed that I could come back and do it again. If you believe, you can go really, really far in your life. I think I did that and I’m happy.”

The triumph occurred 12 months after questions loomed over Federer’s future in the sport. Crashing out in the semifinals to Milos Raonic, he took a six-month hiatus from the sport to recover. Since coming back, he has now won two grand slam titles and two Masters 1000 titles.

“Better than hold the trophy and winning today is just being healthy.” He explained. “It feels great and it means the world to me.”
“We (his team) worked so hard last year, so to back here and ,you know, just feeling great, holding the trophy now and the tournament I have played – It has just been magical.”

As for the possibility of bidding for No.9 in 2018, the 35-year-old seems determined to make a return in what will be his 20th consecutive appearance at the tournament.

“I hope this wasn’t my last match and I hope I can come back here again and defend the title.” He Concluded.

Federer now has 19 grand slam titles, more than any other player in the history of men’s tennis. Only Steffi Graf (22), Serena Williams (23) and Margaret Court (24) have won more major titles than him.

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