There can be no doubting that, after today’s triumph and Roger Federer’s seventh Wimbledon Championship, the Swiss is the greatest tennis player of all time. After the match, during which the 30-year-old broke British hearts by dispatching Andy Murray in four sets, Federer oozed class as he accepted his winner’s trophy.
At times today, Federer was majestic and unbeatable. Murray had no answer for the world number three as he dominated the second set, narrowly defeated the Scot in the third, and gathered all the momentum he needed to power through under the roof on Centre Court.
Back in 1998 a fresh-faced Federer won the Wimbledon boys’ singles tournament, showing his clear potential. 14 years later, there is nobody who appears more at home, natural and slick in SW19, even when so-called pundits and fans write him off. The irony of calling a champion such as Federer “past it” is extreme. His fitness is incredible, and Federer’s huge success means that no occasion can possibly faze him.
The crowd today were entirely hostile to the Swiss player. Beyond Federer’s coaching staff and family, not one person on Centre wanted him to triumph. At times the atmosphere was akin to a football match, as Boris Becker observed. Raucous, passionate and willing the 25-year-old on, Federer cast all this aside to make shots that simply took the breath away of all who watched him as the game wore on and his powers increased in line with Murray’s growing desperation.
Here are some of the achievements of the great man himself: Federer has won 17 Grand Slam titles (three more than Pete Sampras, and in only 37 major tournaments); he is the joint most-successful male Wimbledon champion and from 2003-2007 Federer’s name was on the trophy every single year at the Championships. Finally, he has won 244 matches at Grand Slams throughout his career.
Some are quick to dismiss Federer as boring; too much like a machine, they say, too clinical. We have a tendency in Britain to shun those who achieve the most success. Always supporters of the underdog, perhaps now the country will sit back and applaud, and even thank the man who has set a new standard in modern tennis. Where Nadal is thunder and fury, Federer comes across as a somehow less aggressive player.
Even this is a myth. Murray forced Federer to rethink today. It would be churlish to deny that during the first set, Murray rattled his opponent. Ditching his previously defensive demeanour, Federer was forced into several errors. However, quickly the tables turned. The Swiss was even right with his prediction after the match, at least in my view. Murray will win a major, perhaps a number of Grand Slams. But this time he has lost to a true great, and one we may never see the likes of again.
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