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Tennis Eminence: Federer Regains Wimbledon With Record 15th Major

img_0461The Wimbledon championship was the scene for round 21 of world number two, Swiss Roger Federer, versus world number six, American Andy Roddick. For the second consecutive year, the men’s final had one exhausting superlatives as Federer vanquished Roddick in a five set marathon 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 for his sixth Wimbledon prize and a record setting fifteen majors.

Roddick baptized the match by blasting away on serve and holding for 1-0. Federer, no slouch himself, kept up on serve. After neither neared the other’s serve, at 5 all, Roddick appeared on the verge of cracking. With two inexplicable errors, Roddick faced 0-30. But with two explosive serves, Andy forced Roger to miss. Yet, in the first long rally of the match, 18 strokes, Federer dipped a forehand so low that Roddick made a forehand error giving the Swiss his first break point. Still, with his star stroke, the serve, Roddick escaped. Federer got three more chances; however, Roddick came up with the answers each time and took the lead 6-5. Now, it became conspicuous to Federer that there was a new nuance to Roddick’s game. Although the serves were still coming at ungodly speed, Federer’s customary tactic of blocking them back was futile because of variety and placement. Furthermore, Roddick’s weaker stroke, the backhand, was producing winners either down the line or crosscourt, a novelty to Federer. These developments contributed to Federer slicing a backhand and forehand up the line long to give Roddick break point and subsequently the set.

In the second set, Roddick continued his brilliant play, volleying well from both wings. But, Federer’s shot making ability was also on display as he tracked down a Roddick dropshot and flicked it crosscourt for a backhand winner in a  23 stroke rally to hold for 5 all. No break point on sale by either man, the set went to a tiebreaker. A forehand error by Federer handed Roddick a mini-break for 2-0. Andy got a second mini-break and a 5-1 edge when Federer pushed a backhand down the line long. The Swiss appeared on his way to a two set deficit. Federer saved the first set point with a backhand crosscourt winner on Roddick’s serve. After Federer protected his serve, Roddick missed a backhand volley which leveled the tiebreaker at 6 all. Then, Federer provoked a volley error from Roddick with a low backhand to earn set point which the Swiss converted when the American’s backhand sailed long.

After the previous set’s disappointment, Roddick could have wilted away. To the contrary, with a forehand down the line winner, Roddick salvaged his first service game and carried his second at love. Serving at 2-3, Roddick sliced a backhand long donating to Federer a break point. Yet, with a great body serve, Andy got back on track and eventually rescued the game. With each player’s tactical acumen spot on, the proprietor of the set was settled by a tiebreaker. With a low backhand slice, Federer forced a backhand error from Roddick to go up a mini-break at 2-1. Subsequently, with Roddick netting a forehand, Federer extended his lead by two mini-breaks at 5-2. Roddick got one back with a forehand crosscourt winner and held serve for 5-6. However, Andy could not steal the set as Roger had done the second as Federer spoiled Roddick’s plan with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Again, there was cause to believe that Roddick’s 19th lost to Federer, his third at Wimbledon, was at hand. Yet, Andy’s body language did not waver. After each man was slightly tested on serve, holding at 40-30, Roddick held at love for 2-1. As Federer sliced backhand found the net and with Roddick converting a backhand volley winner, the American had double break point. When Federer misfired on volley off a sensational backhand pass, Andy had the break and a 3-1 lead. Despite a tough game, Roddick consolidated for 4-1. Although Federer pressured Roddick’s serve, he never achieved a deuce point. With a service unreturnable, Roddick pushed Federer to a fifth set.

After Federer held serve to start, with a backhand crosscourt pass, the Swiss had his first break point in a while. With a stellar first serve, Roddick induced a forehand return error and later equalized the set at 1 all. The subsequent seven games were an exhibition of masterful shots with winners and intelligent serving from both competitors. At 4-5, Roddick produced a forehand winner and an ace for the tie. Then at 5-6, the American squared things off with a down the line backhand pass. With no tiebreaker in the deciding set, the two played on. After Federer miscalculated a forehand crosscourt and a net court dropped for a winner for Roddick, at 30 all, the American seemed to have an opening. However, with a forehand up the line winner and a tremendous serve, Federer pulled ahead 7-6. With games at a premium, both players cruised on serve. At 8 apiece, Roddick blasted a forehand crosscourt winner. Then, with fabulous defense and another backhand down the line winner, Andy attained double break point. But, Federer came up with some dandy shots to ward off Roddick. As the set progressed, neither player retreated. Serving at 12-13 and 40-15, Roddick made a backhand error while Federer converted a forehand crosscourt for deuce. With two bombastic serves, Roddick protected serve. After Federer forged ahead 15-14 with a love game, Roddick committed two errors on deep returns by Federer. But once again, Roddick got to game point because of his dynamic serve. Although Roddick’s backhand crosscourt mistake led to deuce, with a backhand error, Federer gave Roddick a second chance to hold. However, when Roddick made a forehand up the line error on a mishit return by Federer, the American faced championship point. Considering Federer was 0 for 6 on break point conversion, the odds seemed in Roddick’s corner. Despite a good serve, Roddick had a forehand mid-court go long dashing his dream of a first Wimbledon title.

To count Andy out, Roger needed 4 hours and 16 minutes, 95 minutes for the fifth alone, the most number of games in any major final by far, 50 aces, more than 100 winners and as Federer himself admitted “ a little luck at the end”. As Pete Sampras looked on, Roddick did his best to “hold [Federer] off” and stop Roger from surpassing Sampras at 14 majors. With this win, Federer reclaims the number one ranking. However, he acknowledges there’s a footnote since Rafael Nadal could not defend his title. Federer achieved another rarity in tennis as Nadal did last year, winning the French and Wimbledon back to back.

After last year’s thrilling five set final between Nadal and Federer, no tennis fan could have dreamt that a similar spectacle would be repeated today. Once again, with this kind of unforgettable and mesmerizing performance, it almost makes one wish that the winner’s trophy could be severed in half.

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