Behind Roger Federer’s artistry and charm lies a ruthless streak of razor-edged steel which surfaced again on Sunday as he thrashed suffering Marin Cilic 6-3 6-1 6-4 to secure a record eighth men’s Wimbledon singles title.
The incomparable Swiss turned his 11th Wimbledon final into a procession as tearful seventh seed Cilic, battling his nerves and a bloody blister, suffered a torrid afternoon, Reuters reports.
Federer described Cilic’s predicament as “cruel” after ending his torment with an ace after one hour 41 minutes – but there was no hint of sympathy as, 23 days before his 36th birthday, he became the oldest Wimbledon men’s singles champion, the news agency said.
That attitude from the third seed, who last triumphed at the All England Club five years ago, was not surprising since Federer’s dream of title number eight had been shattered by Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.
His take on Cilic’s injury spoke volumes for the killer instinct that has earned him a record-extending 19 majors and taken him past American Pete Sampras’s record of seven men’s singles titles at Wimbledon in the modern era.
“I couldn’t tell what it was,” Federer said. “But if I saw him limping around, or if I saw him pull up hurt, I would start to think, maybe I’ll throw in a dropshot to really check him out, then one more, because that’s what you do.
“You need to hurt him where it hurts already.”
It was not really necessary as Federer enjoyed one of his easiest title victories.
Having reached the final without dropping a set, he was braced for Cilic’s power tools but, apart from the first four games, resistance from the Croat was about as daunting as a man brandishing a stick of celery.
In winning the tournament without the loss of a set, Federer matched the 1976 feat of Swede Bjorn Borg and his own run 10 years ago at the Australian Open.
His latest milestone continued a remarkable resurgence for Federer, who took six months off last year before returning to win the Australian Open – ending a five-year wait for an 18th grand slam many thought would remain elusive.
“I’ve got to take more time off, I don’t know!” said Federer, whose family has doubled with the addition of twins Leo and Lennart to go with twin girls Myla Rose and Charlene Riva since his 2012 title – all of whom were watching on Sunday.
“It is very special. Wimbledon was always my favorite tournament, will always be my favorite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds here.”
For Cilic, who beat Federer in the US Open semi-finals before going on to claim his sole major in 2014, his first final at the citadel of tennis, was a living nightmare.
In pain from a blister, his legs appearing tied together and his mind in turmoil, Cilic seemed on the verge of quitting as the tears flowed and the crowd murmured in embarrassment.
“I got a really bad blister,” Cilic said, explaining his mid-match meltdown that had fans nonplussed. “It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.”
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