Roger Federer on top of the world

Roger Federer

Andy Rod_****

Like Keats’ rainbow, most so-called great sporting moments soon become part of “the dull catalogue of common things” in this screen-and-scream age of ours.

But not this one: as Andy Rod_****’s mis-hit forehand sailed over the baseline, Roger Federer jumped like a child that has just been handed its favourite toy.

After four hours and 16 minutes on the centre court at Wimbledon, a time

when play often soared to regal heights even as the sun dipped, the great man finally became the most successful Grand Slam champion of all time.

The 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14 victory in the men’s singles final of the 123rd championships on Sunday saw Federer ease past the greatest

Wimbledon champion of modern times. Pete Sampras stood up, along with

Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, to applaud not only a deserving winner but one of the most valiant losers seen in these parts.

“Defeat has a dignity that noisy victory does not have,” wrote the Argentine poet Jose Luis Borges.

No final defeat in this great championship might have had quite as much dignity as Rod_****’s and if he hadn’t tightened up a bit when leading 6-2 in

the second set tiebreak, this might well have been his day. He had it in him to stop history on its tracks.
Destiny’s child

But then, Federer is very much destiny’s child, always the chosen one. Nobody but the Swiss genius could have found a way past Rod_**** on this day.

A little later, as he lifted the Challenge Cup, on its shiny surface the six-time

champion might have seen the reflection of his only real challenger from now on — himself.

Federer has always believed that his greatest motivation came from within, that he enjoyed challenging himself to go where nobody has. Functioning as

he often does, in a perfectionist’s vacuum, who knows how much more he can accomplish.
No.1 again

His sixth Wimbledon title saw Federer move back to the No.1 spot ahead of Rafael Nadal for the first time since August 2008 when the Spaniard eased

past him. It was also a record 20th Grand Slam final for the man who had held the No.1 ranking for 237 consecutive weeks.

After receiving the Cup, Federer turned to the Royal Box and said, “Pete, thanks very much for coming. I know it is a long way. This is a great record to have.”

When he leaves the game, it will of course become the greatest record to have for the future generation of champions. Who knows how high that mark would be?

“Sorry Pete, I tried,” said Rod_****. “It was a pleasure to play here today in front of so many great champions.”

It was a great match. To say anything else would mean stripping it of its dignity. Challenging each other over every inch of the turf, Federer and

Rod_**** dished out a final that was invariably special and occasionally alluring.

Both men served with great power and depth, unfurled strokes of transcendental majesty and it was a question of who would blink first in the decider.

Neither did before the American’s resistance finally came to an end rather tamely, considering everything that had gone on before.

“Great players make it happen. Average players don’t,” the remarkably candid

golfer Kenny Penny had said after he made two bogies on the last two holes to lose the Augusta Masters championship.

On this day, making it happen took some doing for Federer. Through irresistible passages of play, it was Rod_**** who looked the better player. He

not only took more risks, but his ground-strokes seemed have greater penetration and he covered the court with tremendous speed.
Huge miss

After he broke Federer’s serve in the 12th game with a forehand winner to take the first set, the momentum was very much with Rod_**** but he blew a

great chance to go up two sets, losing the second set tiebreak after being 6-2 up.

You don’t offer such gifts to Federer, especially on an occasion such as this and soon the Swiss maestro had the second set in his pocket.

But Rod_**** did well to play himself back into the contest as he broke Federer’s serve in the fourth game of the fourth set with a backhand pass.

What is more, he had a great opportunity to serve for the championship as Federer went down 15-40 on serve in the 17th game.

But, staring down the barrel, the great man found the answers with big serves.


Prefix denotes seeding

Men’s singles: Final: 2-Roger Federer (Sui) bt Andy Rod_**** (U.S.) 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14. Women’s doubles: Final: 4-Serena Williams & Venus Williams (U.S.) bt 3-Samantha Stosur & Rennae Stubbs (Aus) 7-6(4), 6-4.

Boys singles: Final: Andrey Kuznetsov (Rus) bt Jordan Cox (U.S.) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.