To the victor the spoils . . .
Roger Federer's claim to be regarded as the best player in the history of the sport looks irresistible this morning after the Swiss won his seventh Wimbledon singles title, moving him equal with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw at the top of the all-time lists, while extending his own record of grand-slam victories to 17.
This was history. It just wasn't the kind most visitors to SW19 had hoped for. In addition to a further £1,150,000 deposit into that enviable Swiss bank account, Federer today returns to world No.1 and, if he keeps hold of that position for a fortnight, he will overhaul Sampras's record of 286 weeks at the sport's summit – the most anyone has managed since the ATP rankings began in 1973. He has won more tournaments than anyone else this year, has more wins in grand slams than any player in history and, after two successive years of crashing out in the quarter-finals, he becomes only the third man in history – after Rod Laver and Arthur Ashe – to capture the Wimbledon title aged 30 or more.
Afterwards, he said it would take a while for him to fully appreciate what he had just achieved, and paid tribute to his twin girls Charlene and Myla, who watched from the players' box, not to mention a text from his pal and fellow all-time sporting great Tiger Woods which arrived during the rain break.
"Honestly, this one hasn't quite sunk in yet for some reason," Federer said. "I guess I was trying to be so focused in the moment itself that when it all happened I was just so happy it was all over and the pressure was gone, basically. There has been a couple of tough moments for me the last couple of years, I guess. There was so much on the line, so I didn't try to think of the world No.1 ranking or the seventh or the seventeenth. I really tried not to picture myself with the trophy or to think too far ahead."
"I didn't need to get it [Woods's support] through Twitter, I got one from himself," he added. "He was very pumped up these last couple days for me. He was very supportive. It is nice when other greats like this believe in me. They push me further, even in the rain delay, when they cheer you on."
The rain break, which occurred in the early stages of the third set – with the match poised at one set all – was one of a number of crucial moments in this epoch-defining final. It was only when the match was played indoors that the Swiss really started to hammer home the advantage.
The 30-year-old said he felt one of the main changes he had made to his game was a willingness to be more proactive against the big players, the kind of comment which leaves open the accusation that the Scot again had been too passive in the latter stages of the match.
Federer said: "I tried to play more aggressively. Obviously there was a lot of wind involved as well in the first couple of sets. I tried to take it more to Andy, and I was able to do that. I went to fetch victory more than he did potentially. I don't know, but I'm happy that closing the roof maybe helped me today, because I wasn't sure if it was going to help me or not."
The bad news for everyone else is that he feels more titles are imminent. "I'm so happy at the age I am right now, because I have had such a great run and I know there's still more possible," he said. "People forget sometimes I do have twin girls. That has had a massive impact on my life. To be able to juggle everything together has been a challenge. But I think it's helped my game more than anything because I think I'm playing some of the best tennis of my life right now."
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