At the age of 35, Roger Federer can add another moment to his legacy with a 19th slam title and eighth overall at Wimbledon. It may not have been the toughest route for him, having managed to avoid all three of his Big Four rivals but Marin Cilic, his opponent in the final, has looked impressive on the grass throughout and will be fancying his chances of winning his second slam title.
Federer has been flawless this fortnight, easily defeating lowly ranked players in week one with the supposed next set of contenders being swept aside in the second week – with just as little resistance in most cases. Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych broke just twice between them in the 9 sets they lost to Federer with none of the trio really ever putting into doubt the Swiss’ entry into the next round. Berdych put up an admirable effort, taking the first two sets into tie breaks – the first from a set down, although he would lose both of them 7-4. The third and final set was settled by a solitary break as Federer closed out the match in 2hr18m, the first time he had spent over 2 hours on Centre Court at this year’s tournament. ““I thought it was close. Even though I feel like it reminded me of the matches I’ve had this tournament on some occasions, you know, there were chances for the opponent,” Federer said. “I was able to come up with the goods when it mattered.”
Cilic was on fire to begin the tournament, winning 12 straight sets. The big serving games of Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey offered a different threat to him but it was one that he overcame, to beat his opponents in five and four sets respectively. Querrey, confident off a win over Murray in the previous round, will have been disappointed to have not dragged the Croatian into 5 sets for the second match running having gone up a break in the fourth set. Federer won’t be so forgiving in the final so Cilic will have to ensure he is serving at his best – matching his tournament average of 22 aces in the final would go some way to ensuring there is a possibility of a contest.
Cilic is going to need to do something special if he is to reverse his awful head to head with Federer. He is 1-6 against the Swiss, with the sole win coming at the 2014 US Open. Cilic was unstoppable that day, putting in one of his best ever performances to blow Federer off the court in straight sets in just 1 hour and 45 minutes. He went on to deservedly win the title with a win over Kei Nishikori in the final. If he were to beat Federer again, the body of work may not have been as impressive but the feat of beating a dominant opponent with whom the crowd is fully behind would still be a major achievement and may push Cilic’s career towards a stature similar to Stanislas Wawrinka’s. “It would mean absolutely a world to me [to win Wimbledon]. You know, I feel that when I won the US Open in ’14, it just opened so many possibilities in my mind for the rest of my career. To be able to do it again would definitely mean, I would say, even more ’cause I know how much it meant for me to win that first one. It would be absolutely a dream come true to win Wimbledon here.” he said.
Cilic had proved he could push Federer at Wimbledon too, with one of those other losses being at Wimbledon last year. Cilic had match point but could not convert, allowing Federer to advance to the semi finals – his last match until the beginning of 2017. “Obviously I’m going to look back, as well, 12 months ago I was one point away from winning a match over here against him. Definitely I believe that if I’m going to be playing him, in my own abilities to get through and to win it. But I still know that it’s a big mountain to climb. Roger is playing maybe one of his best tennis of his career at the moment, having a great season. So I know it’s going to be a huge challenge.” he said.
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets