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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.

But it was not a memorable final. 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.

The spectators were concerned that that might be the end of the match. Already, ten men had retired from the court in these Championships because of injury, including Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final. The last time it happened in a men’s final was in 1911, and we can be confident that there were not 15,000 spectators watching that day, with a ticket costing almost £200 in their pocket.

Cilic did at least choose to continue, and as a result he pulled off a near-impossible feat: turning the crowd against Federer on Centre Court. It wasn’t that they wanted Cilic to win. They just wanted him to put up a fight, and extend the match somewhere close to the two-hour mark.

 

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In terms of general competitiveness, the first four games represented the high-water mark. Cilic came out delivering the sort of thunderous ground strokes that had shunted Federer backwards in their US Open semi-final of 2014 – a match that Cilic unexpectedly won in straight sets.

He held a break point in the fourth game, but couldn’t find the court with his backhand return. And then his feet went out from under him, in both a literal and figurative sense, just a minute or two later. 

After a brief and uncompetitive second set, Cilic took a medical time-out at the start of the third, and had his foot treated by the trainer. He stabilised a little thereafter, but the only real question was whether Federer would be able to maintain his concentration.

The answer was yes. Federer has played well over 1300 matches in his career. He might not have been in this situation before on Centre Court, but he has surely seen it elsewhere. And while the quality of tennis overall remained disappointing, he maintained enough pressure to rule out a Cilic comeback.

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London : Switzerland’s Roger Federer kisses the trophy after defeating Croatia’s Marin Cilic to win the Men’s Singles final match on day thirteen at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London

In the end, an ace clinched Federer’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory in 1hr 41min. It was the first time Federer had won Wimbledon without dropping a set, and only the second time anyone had done so in the Open era, after Bjorn Borg in 1976.

As for the fans, who might have felt a little short-changed, there was always the mixed-doubles showdown to look forward to: Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis against Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen.

Federer won four of the next five games to clinch the first set.

Roger Federer, born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss professional tennisplayer who is currently ranked world No. 3 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in history for a male tennis player. He has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 302 weeks and was ranked No. 1 for a record 237 consecutive weeks. Federer turned professional in 1998 and was continuously ranked in the top ten from October 2002 to November 2016.

In majors, Federer has won a record eight Wimbledon titles, five Australian Open titles, a record five consecutive US Open titles and one French Open title. He is among eight men to have captured a career Grand Slam and has reached a record 29 men’s singles Grand Slam finals, including ten in a row from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships to the 2007 US Open. Many players and analysts consider Federer the greatest tennis player of all time.

Among Federer’s other ATP tournament records include winning six ATP World Tour Finals and playing in the finals at all nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. He also won the Olympic gold medal in doubles with his compatriot Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the Olympic silver medal in singles at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Representing Switzerland, he was a part of the 2001 winning Hopman Cup team and the 2014 winning Davis Cup team. He was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record four consecutive years from 2005 through 2008.