London (July 16, 2017): It was a memorable milestone for Roger Federer, who became the first man in the history of the Wimbledon Championships to lift the title eight times.
Federer claimed his 19th Grand Slam title 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 and at 35 is Wimbledon’s oldest men’s winner of the modern era, succeeding Arthur Ashe, who was almost 32 when he won in 1976.
However, the Swiss superstar’s 11th Wimbledon final, and 29th at the majors, will also be remembered for the moving sight of the popular Cilic breaking down in tears after slipping 3-0 behind in the second set. What will be remembered is the despair of Marin Cilic, who came in carrying a damaged left foot – judging by the strapping around it – and then seemed to accentuate the problem when he slipped and fell in the fifth game of the match.
Early in the second set, the doctor and the trainer were called to attend Cilic at a changeover. His distress soon overwhelmed him and he sat weeping into his towel while Federer discreetly changed ends and returned to the court.
In terms of general competitiveness, the first four games represented the high-water mark. Cilic came out delivering the sort of thunderous groundstrokes that had shunted Federer backwards in their US Open final of 2014 – a match that Cilic unexpectedly won in straight sets.
He held a break point in the fourth game, but couldn’t find the court with his backhand return. And then his feet went out from under him, in both a literal and figurative sense, just a minute or two later. Federer won four of the next five games to clinch the first set.
After a brief and uncompetitive second set, Cilic took a medical time-out at the start of the third, and had his foot treated by the trainer. He stabilised a little thereafter, but the only real question was whether Federer would be able to maintain his concentration.
The answer was yes. Federer has played well over 1300 matches in his career. He might not have been in this situation before on Centre Court, but he has surely seen it elsewhere. And while the quality of tennis overall remained disappointing, he maintained enough pressure to rule out a Cilic comeback.
In the end, an ace clinched Federer’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory in 1 hour 41 minutes. It was the first time Federer had won Wimbledon without dropping a set, and only the second time anyone had done so in the Open era, after Bjorn Borg in 1976.