Column: Greatness of Roger Federer
The top five sports stories in yet another Weekend That Was:
5. Bryson DeChambeau wins his first professional golf title, taking the PGA John Deere Classic in Illinois by shooting 18-under par and winning over Patrick Rodgers, earning an automatic berth into this week’s British Open.
4. Denny Hamlin finally makes Joe Gibbs Racing a winner for the first time this season as he crosses the finish line first with his triumph in Sunday’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with series leader Martin Truex Jr. coming in second place.
3. The legendary Bob Wolff, a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Washington Senators in the 1950s and Hall of Fame basketball announcer for years with the Detroit Pistons, who worked at his craft for over seven decades, starting in 1939 in Durham, N.C., passes away Saturday at 96.
2. While the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the best team in baseball and sweep the Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs’ newest addition, pitcher Carlos Quintana, holds the Baltimore Orioles to no runs on three hits and strikes out 12 over seven innings in an 8-0 victory Sunday, helping the Cubs to a sweep.
1. While Garbine Muguruza beats Venus Williams Saturday for her first Wimbledon women’s title, 35-year-old Roger Federer makes history by winning his record eighth Wimbledon title with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory Sunday over Marin Cilic.
Our topic of discussion: 1. The greatness of Roger Federer.
Even if Cilic, the 28-year-old Croatian star who won the 2014 U.S. Open had played his guts out and found a way to beat Roger Federer in Sunday’s Wimbledon final, I don’t believe it was going to tarnish Federer’s Hall of Fame career.
Arguably the best men’s player to ever lace his sneakers up and take to a tennis court, Federer had made his mark on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
So in a career filled with landmarks, what was one more Sunday morning/afternoon at the All-England Club. He came into the tournament with seven Wimbledon championships, tied with the great Pete Sampras and William Renshaw for the most. And in quick order, he took out Cilic without dropping a service game.
Not only is eight the most Wimbledon titles in the event’s history, Federer did it in style, too. He didn’t drop a single set along the way. The only other man to do that in Wimbledon history during the Open era was Bjorn Borg when he and the group ABBA were the biggest things to come out of Sweden. That was 1976, five years before Federer was born.
And that’s another thing – at nearly 36 years old (he turns 36 on Aug. 8), Federer became the oldest man to reach a Wimbledon final since 39-year-old Australian Ken Rosewall. But Cilic was far from 21-year-old Jimmy Connors when Connors whipped him in the final.
Another feat for Federer was he won his 317th Grand Slam singles match, passing Serena Williams for the moment for most victories in a Grand Slam event. Williams is out of action at the moment, awaiting the birth of her first child.
Finally, only one other male player has won more championships at one Grand Slam than Federer has at Wimbledon – his longtime rival and friend, Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who has won 10 French Open championships, including this past June.
This may be an era in which Americans have found the sledding very tough (no American has been No. 1 since Andy Roddick back in February 2004), but tennis has seen three of the greatest players ever grace the court – Novak Djokovic with 12 Grand Slam titles, tied for fourth all-time, Nadal with 15, second to Federer and his 19 Grand Slam titles.
Part of his success was not overdoing it. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and realized he may have come back too soon. So he took off the rest of 2016 after losing in the Wimbledon semifinals. He came back to win the Australian Open title in an epic battle with Nadal this winter, then took the French Open off to come battle again at Wimbledon.
Chances are he’ll be back for the U.S. Open starting next month.
He may not be that Roger Federer who won that first Wimbledon championship in 2003, but don’t tell that to the players he faced this past tournament.
They’ll all agree that if his game has changed, they never saw it the last two weeks.
What he did only enhanced the legacy of the greatest men’s tennis player’s career.
Mark Blumenthal is a writer for the Palatka Daily News. You can reach him on Twitter @diabolicalmarky