SO Venus Williams fell at the final hurdle in her quest to make Wimbledon history yesterday, but now the attention falls on Roger Federer ahead of this afternoon’s men’s singles final against Marin Cilic.
Not surprisingly, that is the main focus of WIMBLEDON WRAP.
Roger Federer v Marin Cilic, Centre Court, 2pm
‘The History Boy v The Party Crasher’
ROGER FEDERER will emerge onto his favourite court in front of his adoring public as he seeks to write another incredible chapter in his never-ending story. But this is no mere coronation. In Marin Cilic, he faces a Grand Slam winner and an accomplished player on grass, who may already have become a Wimbledon Champion in a different era.
For Federer, 2017 has been an extrordinary year regardless of today’s result. When he walked off court after losing his semi-final to Milos Raonic, the Swiss seemed a broken man and that his days at the top were drawing to a close. But to return from knee surgery this year in the grandest of manners has been one of the most remarkable stories in sport. At 35, he has ruled the roost again with victories in the Australian Open, big events in Indian Wells and Miami and the grass warm-up in Halle, and his record for the year currently stands at a staggering 30 wins to just two losses.
Federer has raced to the final at Wimbledon without losing a set, and his tennis has been as easy on the eye as ever. Yet in his semi-final against Tomas Berdych, there was a slight sense of nervousness about his play. He didn’t quite have the swagger that was there in his dismissal of Raonic in the round before.
Since the exit of Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Roger has been the overwhelming favourite. And that brings pressure. He will expect to win, but he is playing against history. No man has won Wimbledon eight times and perhaps he will never be in the final again. Can he go ahead of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 golf majors – the two biggest individual sports which are often compared?
The records show that Federer has won six of the seven meetings, but there is still plenty of hope for his opponent. Cilic’s sole victory came in the 2014 semi-final of the US Open, when he blitzed Federer off court with a display of power tennis and promptly took the title. While at Wimbledon last year in their quarter-final, Cilic raced into a two-set lead, and had three set points in the fourth set, before he was eventually beaten in five. That shows he has something in his game which hurts Federer. And both players will know that.
Cilic will also know that almost the entire crowd inside Centre Court, those watching on Henman Hill and the millions of TV viewers around the world will be backing Federer. The Croat somehow must not be intimidated by that and must find his best tennis. If he does, he can be the ultimate party crasher, but Federer hasn’t remained at the top for 15 years without having one or two party tricks of his own up his sleeve.
THERE is only one place to be for Brit watch today and that is on Centre Court after Federer versus Cilic is done and dusted. It’s the final of the mixed doubles and there is a guaranteed British winner.
On one side of the net is the glamour pairing of Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis. Murray won this event ten years ago with Jelena Jankovic but was not going to play this year until he was told Hingis was looking for a partner – and you don’t turn down the Swiss Miss! Hingis has won 17 Grand Slam doubles titles and together she and Jamie have breezed through to the final.
Against them are Heather Watson and her Finnish partner Henri Kontinen, who are the reigning champions. Kontinen is a doubles specialist, who has been ably supported by Watson and they have yet to lose a match together at Wimbledon, so something will have to give. But it promises to be an ideal way to say goodbye to this year’s Championships.