An unusually unique Wimbledon came to a close on Sunday with the Master delivering an effervescent class act much to the agony of an awe-struck pupil, which was a reversal to a similar lesson on the art of tennis dished out on Saturday by a young woman to a battle-scarred veteran eyeing a slice of eternal tennis glory. In winning an astonishing eighth men singles title, Roger Federer has silenced the prophets of doom, once and for all.
The Swiss Maestro is not just an ageless wonder, like Jimmy Connors of a few decades back, but one who wrote his way into sports immortality on the sheer strength of his ability to conquer his opponents with a gay abandon, the likes of which were not seen since Pete Sampras. It was rather unusual because it was for the first time in several years that the men semi-finalists were all outside the top four seeds.
For one who is 23 days shy of his 36th birthday, Federer is a rare breed of athletes. Agile and fit as a fiddle, the Swiss Maestro remains a major threat to players half his age in a sport where youthfulness gives a natural advantage to the players. And that is his greatness, perhaps the hallmark of a real genius.
What is mindboggling is not that Federer has become Wimbledon’s oldest men singles champion in the professional era but he did so without dropping a set in the entire championship! The best tribute to Federer’s out of the world showing in this year’s edition has come from the losing finalist Croatian Marin Cilic – ‘Not to drop a set, it's magical. I can't believe it just yet.’
Cilic was fortunate that when his opponent was at his awesome best, he did not chicken out as did Ken Rosewall against fiery and obsessively heroic Connors in 1974. Cilic salvaged some pride after Federer won 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, which is a more respectable defeat for the Croat compared to Rosewall.
When Bjorn Borg was rewriting the record books with his dogged determination and ice-cool temperament while winning an unprecedented five straight titles, none could have envisioned a period whereupon the Swede stalwart’s record would be tumbled in his own lifetime. Sampras and Federer have gone way above Borg.
With Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic nursing injuries, Federer will only have to reckon with the enigmatic Rafael Nadal while going for a spectacular Grand Slam No 20 at the US Open.
Meanwhile, even as credit should go to Garbine Muguruza, who only became the second Spanish woman to be crowned the champion, the sentimental favourite was Venus Williams. In spite of the fact that the 37-year-old American messed up a golden opportunity having come so close to cornering glory, she will have all good memories for the run she enjoyed all through the two-week tournament.
For Indians overall, the adventure was vastly forgettable as none could actually do anything remarkable to add to their image. The main hopes Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna were all letdowns in their respective categories.