Roger Federer’s 19th Grand Slam title wasn’t won in an ideal situation as his opponent, Cilic, suffered a foot injury and played with a heavy bandage, writes Jaspreet Sahni.
Imagine the plight of a Roger Federer fan on Sunday. Perhaps each one of them wanted Marin Cilic to turn it around but their man to win. In the end, Federer killed it to create history in straight sets. But his 19th Grand Slam title wasn’t won in an ideal situation. Cilic suffered a foot injury, played with a heavy bandage, was in tears but made sure that Wimbledon didn’t have its first unfinished final in 100 years.
In the end, as it turned out, Cilic entered the wrong wedding but ended up being Federer’s Best Man.
At 3-0, doctor appeared on the Wimbledon greens. A teary-eyed Cilic knew it was not looking good. Medical timeouts became frequent. The crowd cheered every time Cilic got up, walked, won a point or got himself on the board. In the end, he won just eight games in a 3-6, 1-6, 4-6 scoreline. It was perhaps one defeat a tennis fan would not want to call a defeat. A Federer fan celebrated his 19th major but did not belittle Cilic’s fighting spirit. Federer won, but Cilic didn’t lose. He just missed a chance to win his second Grand Slam. Also Read- A Look Back at Roger Federer’s Eight Wimbledon Titles And Other Stats
It hurt to see Cilic on the brink of breaking down. The fans hung their heads during game breaks: first seeing Cilic’s distress and second for such a one-sided final. Fans camp for days outside All England box office to get a ticket for a Wimbledon final. They adore Federer but not how the win came his way. A half-fit Cilic fought as much his injury permitted. And the Centre Court reserved 50% of the applause just for that.
It helped Federer win his record eighth Wimbledon without dropping a set in the entire tournament, but he was every bit ready for any length. As it turned out, destiny was lopsidedly on his side. Federer’s class and Cilic’s injury forced the latter to just go through the motions for 80 minutes. Also Read- Roger Federer Jumps to 3rd in ATP Rankings After Wimbledon Win
Cilic had a lump in his throat, but he gathered himself and spoke – to a rapturous applause.
“Definitely I had an amazing journey here, played the best tennis of my life and want to thank my team. They are so much strength for me.” And then came the statement that left everyone touched.
“Of course, to all my fans in Croatia, it was really tough today. I gave it my all. I definitely will come back here and try one more time.”
But it takes not a bit away from what Federer achieved, playing his best tennis since taking that six-month break. Before speaking about his feat, he didn’t miss patting Cilic on his back.
“It is cruel sometimes but he fought well. He is a hero. Congratulations on a wonderful tournament. He should be really proud. He was as good as he could be. Be proud of yourself. Hopefully we can play down the road some better ones,” the legend said.
Federer had his kids in attendance, the boy twins for maybe the first time. ”I think they have no idea what’s going on,” he said.
But he isn’t going anywhere, which will give his kids time to grow up and know what their dad means to the sports world. In fact, he promised to be back in England next year and stay on the circuit to swell his count of 19 majors. Fair to say then: Watch out 20s, Federer is not done in his 30s.