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.
What we will remember 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.
Already a legend, Roger Federer has elevated even higher into the grand slam stratosphere with an eighth Wimbledon triumph and 19th major success.
Defying age and a wounded Marin Cilic, the 35-year-old snared another large chunk of history with a runaway 6-3 6-1 6-4 victory at the sport’s spiritual home. Hampered by a blister on his left foot, Cilic struggled to reproduce the sparkling form which had carried him to a maiden All England Championship.
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With Federer’s fifth crown of the year, the Swiss rises to No. 3 – his highest rankings position since August 2016. He also joins Rafael Nadal as the second singles qualifier for the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November.
Federer, one of the sport’s great frontrunners, won five straight games from a 4-3 lead in the first set to a 3-0 advantage in the second set, when Cilic called for on-court treatment and appeared to be distressed.
Three straight groundstroke errors from Cilic at 0-1, when leading 30/15 – including one forehand and two backhand errors – saw Federer seize total control of his 11th Wimbledon final. When Federer forced Cilic into the net for a volley error to gain a 5-1 lead, fellow multiple Wimbledon champions Rod Laver and Stefan Edberg – both watching from the Royal Box – nodded approvingly at how the Swiss had dismantled Cilic’s power-dominated game. Federer hit his third ace, in a love hold, for a two sets lead.
Federer showcased his full repertoire in the third set, with his confidence shining through in several serve and volley points – 16 years on from the last all-serve and volley Wimbledon final between Cilic’s compatriot Goran Ivanisevic and Australia’s Patrick Rafter. Cilic, who had had his feet freshly strapped at the end of the second set, remained aggressive and continued to work hard, but he made little inroads in Federer’s service games.
The pressure proved to be too much, with Federer breaking to 15 for a 4-3 lead when Cilic hit a forehand into the net. Barely 10 minutes later, Federer closed out in the style of a champion, with an ace, to complete only his second Grand Slam championship title run without dropping a set.