The MasterBlog: Federer Beats Roddick at Wimbledon for Record 15th Major Title
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Federer Beats Roddick at Wimbledon for Record 15th Major Title

Federer Beats Roddick at Wimbledon for Record 15th Major Title

By Danielle Rossingh

July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Roger Federer became the first man to win 15 major tennis titles, beating Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final that lasted more than four hours and finished on the winner’s only service break.

Federer defeated Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 16-14 on Centre Court at the All England Club to pass Pete Sampras in the Grand Slam record books. Federer will replace the injured Rafael Nadal of Spain at the top of the rankings on the ATP World Tour tomorrow.

Sampras watched the match from the stands, seated beside other former champions including Bjorn Borg. Federer acknowledged Sampras when the American arrived during a first- set changeover.

Federer threw his racket in the air as Roddick’s forehand flew out on the first match point. He had squandered six previous break points.

The 30-game final set marked the longest in tournament history. The previous record was 24 games in 1954.

The record-breaking win, following a difficult season in 2008 during which he lost his top ranking and Wimbledon crown to Nadal, leaves him as one of the world’s greatest athletes. The Swiss won his first French Open last month after losing three straight finals to Nadal, a Spaniard who was ousted in the fourth round in Paris this year and skipped Wimbledon because of knee injuries.

“His achievement is more difficult than what Tiger Woods has pulled off,” seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe said, comparing Federer with the world’s top-ranked golfer. “He’s running, he’s playing on different surfaces. Doesn’t Tiger just have to play on grass?”

The 27-year-old’s accomplishments brought praise from sportsmen across the world.

Worldwide Acclaim

“What he’s doing over there and what he’s done throughout his entire career has been pretty phenomenal, just his consistency in the slams, the biggest events, he’s always there,” said Woods, who regularly exchanges text messages with his Swiss friend.

Federer cemented his place in the history one month after he won his sole Roland Garros championship to tie Sampras’s 14 major victories. The American, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, hailed the Swiss as “the greatest ever” after that match, which made Federer only the sixth man to win each Grand Slam tournament -- Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. opens.

“It’s an unbelievable effort to have 15 Grand Slam titles,” Rod Laver, who won all four majors in one year in 1962 and 1969, told reporters at the All England Club before the final. “And, of course, Pete Sampras has got 14, which was an unbelievable effort right there.”

‘Best of Era’

Breaking the record makes Federer “the best of his era,” said Laver, who doesn’t like to compare different times because of equipment changes and different playing styles. “It’s amazing what sort of shots he can come with from impossible positions.”

Federer’s victory in Paris lifted the weight of expectation off his shoulders, nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova said.

“The monkey is off his back,” she told a press conference in London. “From now on, everything is a bonus. It’s going to be fun to see him play the way he wants to play.”

“He’s an all-time great,” Bud Collins, a broadcaster and tennis historian for more than 40 years, said in an interview at Wimbledon the day before the men’s final. Like Laver, Collins won’t compare players from different eras.

At Roland Garros, Federer took advantage of Nadal’s early exit against Robin Soderling of Sweden. The Spaniard had stopped Federer in Paris in the previous four years, while he also took his Wimbledon crown last year in a five-set final that took 4 hours, 48 minutes and was called by McEnroe the greatest he’d ever seen.

Tears Fall

In August, Nadal ended Federer’s record 237-week run at the top of the rankings and again beat the Swiss in a five-set final at the Australian Open at the beginning of this season. That defeat left Federer in tears during the award ceremony.

Federer still needs to get the upper hand over his nemesis, Nadal, to be considered the greatest of all time, Collins said. The Spaniard has won 13 of their 20 matches.

Federer’s run to 15 major titles started six years ago at Wimbledon.

“There are milestone wins that you’ll never forget,” Federer told reporters at Wimbledon the day before the final. “One of them was obviously my first Wimbledon victory here in 2003.”

Another milestone was becoming No. 1 in the world in 2004 after winning the Australian Open.

“It was a wonderful feeling, like feeling on top of the world,” he said.

Slam Streaks

Federer played in a record 20th Grand Slam final, breaking the record he shared with Ivan Lendl. He’s also made 21 consecutive major semifinals. That record probably never will be broken, other players say.

“The consistency in the big tournaments is ridiculous,” said Andy Murray of Britain, who lost in the semifinals to Roddick. “No one will ever match that.”

Federer’s victory robbed Roddick of a chance to end America’s longest Grand Slam drought in the men’s game since tennis admitted professionals in 1968. Wimbledon is the 23rd major since Roddick triumphed at the 2003 U.S. Open and no American man has won one since. Andre Agassi had been the only other American male to reach a major final since then, losing to Federer at the 2005 U.S. Open.

Betting Favorite

Federer was the 1-8 favorite to win his sixth Wimbledon title at British bookmakers Ladbrokes, with Roddick at 9-2. Federer’s odds mean a winning 8 pound bet returns 1 pound and the original wager.

His historic run isn’t over just yet.

The Swiss, who is expecting his first child with his wife, Mirka Vavrinec, this summer, wants to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

“Mirka’s dream was always that our child can see me play as well,” Federer said. “I have to play a few more years just because of Mirka. The 2012 Olympics here at Wimbledon is something I’m going to be a part of.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at the All England Club through the London sports desk at drossingh@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: July 5, 2009 13:38 EDT

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