Wimbledon, London July 3-16, 2017; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Grass
Final: (3)Roger Federer d. (7)Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4
Federer notched a record eighth crown at the All England Club, surpassing Pete Sampras for solo first place on the all-time list. The Swiss added to his unprecedented Grand Slam titles haul, lifting a 19th trophy in total and second of the year, having prevailed at the Australian Open in January. “It means the world to me to hold this trophy, particularly when I haven’t dropped a set,” said Federer on BBC TV after the match. “It’s magical, I can’t believe it yet. It’s too much, really. It’s disbelief that I can achieve such heights. I wasn’t sure if I’d be in a final again after last year, especially some tough losses to Novak [Djokovic] in 2014 and 2015. But I kept believing and if you believe you can go a long way in your life. Here I am with an eighth title, it’s fantastic.” It was a slow start for Federer on a crisp Sunday afternoon, striking an early double fault on game point and conceding a break chance to Cilic. But the Croatian squandered the opportunity and the Swiss seized the initiative, breaking immediately in the next game after racing to a 0/40 lead. Federer would break again for the opener behind a ruthless returning display, surging to a one-set lead. An edgy Cilic would continue to succumb to Federer’s pressure from the baseline. A backhand wide gave the 35 year-old a quick break in the second game of the second set. An emotional Cilic was assessed by tournament doctors on the subsequent changeover and Federer would stay the course, breaking once again for a commanding 5-1 lead. Cilic did well to make the third set competitive, but the seventh seed could not halt Federer’s indomitable momentum. The Basel native would take the decisive break in the seventh game and did not look back, streaking to the title after 1 hour and 41 minutes. He would secure his eighth Wimbledon crown with his 13th ace of the match. It was a 93rd tour-level title and record 17th on grass for Federer. Stats of the final.
2nd semifinal: (3)Roger Federer d. (11)Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-4
“I was able to come up with the goods when it mattered… I played good in the ‘breakers… I never played with any sense of panic, which is so important when it gets to crunch time,” said Federer, who saved five of six break points. Berdych erased a break point in his opening service game to start strong in his third Wimbledon semi-final. But Federer, who’s playing in his 12th Wimbledon semi-final, came back at him at 2-2, smashing a jumping forehand before hitting a swinging volley for the break. He consolidated the break with a hold to love. Federer used variety, including a steady diet of slice backhands, to keep the big-hitting Berdych off balance. The Swiss sought to stretch Berdych and not allow the 6’5” Czech time to setup on his lethal forehand. But Berdych responded well, swinging freely from both sides while trying to attack Federer’s serve. The Swiss double faulted twice at 4:3, including on break point, to give the break back. At 5-all, Berdych erased two break points with two aces. But his forehand let him down in the tie-break as he netted a sitter at 3:4 to give Federer the mini-break. In the second set, Federer faced pressure on his serve at 3-all when Berdych nailed a forehand winner to bring up a break point. But the 35-year-old Swiss crushed Berdych’s hopes, hitting three consecutive winners – one forehand and two service – to hold. In the tie-break, the 18-time Grand Slam champion brought more stellar shot-making, teeing off on a Berdych second serve to earn a mini-break at 2:1. Federer then struck back-to-back forehand winners to lead 4:1. Berdych turned away a break point at 2-all in the third set and had two break points during the very next service game to get himself back into the match. But Federer barely let him hit another ball in that game. From 15/40, Federer hit two aces, a service winner and another ace to hold. He’d break the next game.
“It’s definitely great for me to be in the final of a Grand Slam again,” said Cilic. “I felt that my level of tennis in the past several weeks is really on a high level, and that has given me a lot of consistency with my mindset. Obviously, it’s going to be a big match for me. But it’s great thing that I have already played one Grand Slam final, and I believe it’s going to be easier to prepare.” The Centre Court soon fell silent in awe of the power level of both players, peppered by few groundstroke winners in the early exchanges. It was only in the eighth game, when Cilic led 4:3, that the returner won the first point for 0/15 of a service game. At 1-all in the tie-break, Cilic broke clear with a forehand crosscourt winner for a run of three straight points, but the momentum swung back in Querrey’s favour as he combined aggressive serving with deft touch. Cilic saved one set point at 5:6, when Querrey struck a backhand into the net. After a Hawk Eye challenge on the next point, overruling a Cilic ace as out, a spectator in the crowd collapsed. After a two-minute delay, Cilic folded in making successive backhand errors to hand Querrey the 48-minute set. Frustrated in not sealing the first set, Cilic controlled his nerves to keep plugging away. Although the Croatian was unable to convert break-point chances in the first and fifth games of the second set, Querrey’s movement became compromised – perhaps as the fatigue of three straight five-setters caught up with him. Cilic roared his approval when he drew Querrey to the net for a backhand pass to break to love for a 4:3 advantage. From there, groundstroke errors began to creep into Querrey’s game, while Cilic’s strong emotional effort reaped dividends. The early stages of the third set became a mental struggle: a personal battle. First for Querrey, when his serve and energy levels appeared to be in terminal decline, then for Cilic as witness to an American resurgence and the recoup of an early break. Both players competed with endeavour in the tie-break, realising the enormity of the situation. But it was Querrey who made two costly errors on serve, when he made a backhand error and forehand approach error to give Cilic a 6:3 lead. Failure to hit first serves into court early in the fourth set put Cilic under pressure and Querrey broke in the third game en route to a 4-2 lead. Yet Cilic regrouped to win five of the next six games to book his place in his second Grand Slam championships final (2014 US Open). At 4:3, Querrey was unable to capitalise on a 30/0 lead and paid the price as Cilic won four straight points ending with a drop shot winner. Though Cilic got tight on a backhand, on his first match point at 6:5, with Querrey serving at 15/40, the Croatian struck his 26th forehand winner – his 70th of the match – on the next point. Stats of the match.
(3)Roger Federer d. (6)Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(4)
“I’m playing very well. I’m rested. I’m fresh. I’m confident, too. Then great things do happen. Confidence is a huge thing,” Federer said. With his closest rivals, World No. 1 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, losing at Wimbledon on Wednesday, the stars are aligning for Federer in his attempt to capture a record eighth crown. “Of course, I’m surprised to see them going out, also Rafa. But the other guys are playing well. On a grass court, the margins are small,” Federer said. “Of course, I wish them the best, that they come back strong again.” Federer, who has resisted the temptation to hit body serves at The Championships this year, aiming for placement over sheer power, kept Raonic on the stretch throughout their one hour and 58-minute encounter. Quick to the net in order to take time away from Raonic, Federer first broke in the fifth game with a running crosscourt forehand winner and later clinched the set with an ace. Raonic was given little respite as Federer lost just two of 30 service points in the second set, which included 13 winners. Breaks of serve in the first and fifth games, kept Federer on the front foot as he won seven of the next nine games from a 5:4 first-set lead. Through two sets, Federer had committed just three unforced errors. “I saw things very well. That helped me returning his serve as well. From the baseline, I felt like I had the upper hand, which wasn’t necessarily the case last year, which helped me to stay more calm,” Federer said, comparing Wednesday’s quarter-final match to their semi-final contest last year, which Raonic won. Federer did not have things his own way in the third set, coming close to a 0-2 deficit, but for quick work in moving Raonic out of court at 30/40. The Canadian then pressed in the eighth game, but was unable to convert four break point opportunities. Without any tangible success, the pressure could have mounted on Raonic. In an inevitable tie-break, Raonic came close to a 4:0 lead, but two aggressive groundstrokes, a reflex forehand volley, a backhand drop volley and forehand winner helped Federer to five straight points for a 5:3 advantage. “You know you have to do a lot,” said Raonic. “It’s a stiff task… It’s a lot harder to do it than just to know it. He’s moving well. I think the thing that I was most impressed with, at least the years I’ve been on Tour, is that he is extremely sharp mentally – always in the right moments. Just always on top of things. He kept a very high gear the whole entire time, without giving many real glimpses. I think that was the most sort of defeating thing.”
(11)Tomas Berdych d. (2)Novak Djokovic 7-6(2), 2-0 ret.
“This is the reward. This is why I go to the court every day, why I go practise, why I do all the things that I have to do for my career and for my results,” said Berdych. “I can’t be in a better position before Friday’s match.” There were no breaks in the opening set, but Berdych raced through the tie-break to take the early advantage. Djokovic then took a medical timeout after the first set. He dropped serve to trail 0:2 in the second set, then played one point in the next game before retiring after 63 minutes of play. The elbow injury is a disappointing end to his grass-court season, particularly since he had rounded into top form in recent weeks. The three-time Wimbledon champion won his first ATP World Tour title in nearly six month at the Aegon International (d. Monfils), then cruised into the quarter-finals this fortnight without losing a set. ”It’s really hard to swallow when you have to retire, especially when you’re playing well. I was playing the best tennis I’ve played in the last 10 months or so. I felt really good on the court,” said Djokovic. “It’s just unfortunate. But in life, these particular things happen for a reason. It takes some time and thinking to understand why this happened, and to learn from it.”
(7)Marin Cilic d. (16)Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1
The left-hander, playing in his first Grand Slam quarter-final, broke first when he lashed a forehand winner down the line to lead 4:3 in the first set. He’d break again to take the opener after only 33 minutes. But Cilic, who had fallen in the Wimbledon quarter-finals the past three years, rebounded well. He held serve throughout the second set and controlled his nerves in the tie-break. Muller, after having saved a set point at 5:6, double faulted at 6-all to give Cilic another set point, which Cilic converted with a lunging forehand pass. “When I won the second set, I felt that I was the one who just started to play a little bit better. I was the one who started to make a little bit more pressure and I was more into Gilles’ service games,” Cilic said. Cilic looked to be taking control in the third. He held throughout and broke for the first time at 6:5. During that service break, Cilic ended a remarkable streak of Muller’s. Up until that game, which included 15 Muller service games and the second-set tie-break, the left-hander had not lost a point while serving into the ad court. Down two sets to one, though, Muller did not fade. The two-time ATP World Tour titlist this season broke Cilic at 5-all and continued to mix up his serve effectively. The Luxembourg left-hander won eight of the final 10 points in the fourth set to force a decider. “I just reset myself a little bit after the fourth set. I didn’t want to change anything because I didn’t play too bad a set, and I just continued on that path,” Cilic said. But in the final set, Cilic seized control of the match and didn’t let go. He broke Muller twice and converted his first match point to advance. “I think I started out pretty good on the first set… Marin was able to win the second set, then started playing better. He was a better player in the fourth set for sure. He was dominating… Somehow I stayed in there and managed to win it. I don’t know how,” Muller said. “Then what was very tough was the beginning of the fifth set. He played a phenomenal game in the beginning to break me. It was tough to take that because that’s not the way you want to start out a fifth set, especially if you just won the fourth, run behind the score all the time. He was just too good at the end.” Cilic becomes the third Croatian man to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals in the Open Era after Goran Ivanisevic (1990, 1992, 1994-95, 1998, 2001) and Mario Ancic (2004).
(24)Sam Querrey d. (1)Andy Murray 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1
Querrey grew in both confidence and stature on Wednesday to beat World No. 1 and two-time champion Murray, who struggled with a hip injury in the latter stages, on Centre Court at The Championships for a place in his first major semi-final. Murray appeared to be in control against the No. 24 seed, when he converted his fourth break point opportunity for a 4:3 lead in the second set, but a lapse in concentration soon let Querrey back into the pair’s ninth meeting. Two poor drop shots put Murray in danger in the eighth game, and Querrey’s depth of return ensured he was able to attack the net for a forehand volley put-away for the service break. With Murray serving at 4:5, Querrey converted his second set point chance with a backhand crosscourt winner on an approach to the net. The third set was far from routine for Murray, who broke in the first game and regained the momentum. Two groundstroke errors handed Querrey a way back in the 10th game, when Murray served for the set at 5:4. The tie-break turned when Querrey mis-hit a smash into the net at 1:2 and Murray went on a run of four straight points. As Murray’s service motion began to fall away, Querrey capitalised to run through the fourth set with three breaks of serve. The American completed the 23-minute set with a fine running crosscourt forehand winner, then maintained the momentum in the decider to race to a 3:0 advantage – a streak of nine straight games. Memories of Murray’s battling five-set wins over Fernando Verdasco en route to the 2013 title and against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight in 2016 soon began to fade. Querrey broke Murray once again to 30 for a 5:1 lead, following a terrific all-court rally, then calmly closed out his 23rd match win of the year with his 27th ace. “I had chances in the first three sets,” said Murray. “In the second set, I think I was up 4-3, then got broken twice there. That obviously turned out to be quite an important part of the match. I did manage to win the third. Maybe I could have got the match done in three sets there, had I closed out the second after getting the break. Sam served extremely well at the end of the match, loosened up, was going for his shots. [There was] nothing much I could do. The whole tournament I’ve been a little bit sore. But I tried my best right to the end. I gave everything I had. I’m proud about that. But it’s obviously disappointing” Djokovic & Murray didn’t play a professional match until the end of the 2017 season following their Wimbledon quarterfinal defeats!