Sunday, July 08, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: Federer Wins 17th Major; 7th Wimbledon

As I predicted yesterday, Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 to win his 17th major title and tie Pete Sampras record of 7 men's singles titles at Wimbledon. The 30-year-old Swiss great has now won titles at Wimbledon in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012. With his win today, Federer moves three singles titles ahead of Sampras' 14 on the list of most Grand Slams. His previous Grand Slam win came at the 2010 Australian Open (over Murray), more than 29 months ago. Additionally, he will be ranked World #1 on the ATP Tour again on Monday, for the 286th week, becoming tied with Sampras for the most weeks at #1. That record will almost certainly be broken the following week. At 30 years, 335 days Federer will be the second oldest player to be ranked #1 after Andre Agassi did it when he was 33 years, 131 days old. Federer was last ranked number 1 in June 2010, losing the ranking to his nemesis Rafael Nadal on June 7, 2010 following his quarterfinal loss to Robin Soderling at the 2010 Roland Garros tournament.

Federer's win should end the conversation once and for all who is the greatest men's singles player of all time, despite his 10-18 losing career record against Nadal. Nadal has won 7 titles on his best surface, and reached 5 Wimbledon finals, where he defeated Federer in one. Federer has won 7 titles (in 8 finals) on his best surface, and faced Nadal in 4 finals and 1 semifinal in the major on his worst surface and lost all 5 matches. But on hard courts Federer has won 5 major titles (in 6 finals) while Nadal has reached 2 hard court finals and won one (not against Federer). Federer has now won 75 ATP tour singles titles, extended his head-to-head lead over Novak Djokovic to 15-12 and he has evened his career head-to-head score with Murray at 8-all. Speaking of Murray, the first British Wimbledon finalist in 74 years made many more fans worldwide with his post-match speech where, despite unsuccessfully fighting back tears, he praised his opponents play and said "I'm getting closer, aren't I?" Hopefully his coach Ivan Lendl, who also famously lost his first 4 major finals but went on to win 8 major titles, will be able to help his charge recover from today's loss.

Interestingly, both the mens and women's singles title winners this year, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, are both over age 30, the 6th time the two have won majors at the same tournament in their illustrious career. The 5-time Wimbledon ladies singles champion also won the Wimbledon doubles title with her sister, 5-time Wimbledon ladies singles champion Venus Williams, for the 5th time.

It was a great tournament for me, as I correctly predicted 7 of the 7 last matches in the men's draw (quarterfinals on) as well as 7 of the 7 last matches on the women's side. A 100% accuracy rate!

Men's Final Review
Murray started the match much more strongly than Federer, who was clearly uncharacteristically nervous in the very first service game of the match, making two errors on very easy shots to lose his serve. Murray was played aggressively at the start, hitting his forehand and backhand with much power and authority than he is known for. Eventually, Federer was able to get the break back in the 4th game of the match, but suddenly at 4-all Federer was broken and Murray was able to serve out the 1st set. In the second set, things were basically proceeded on serve, with Murray routinely hitting his serve at 130 mph and Federer struggling to achieve his usual unerring accuracy on the serve, which resulted in less aces than his 25-year-old opponent. Federer had to save break points in his 3rd and 5th service games. Murray was serving at 30-0 in the 12th game when suddenly Federer won 4 straight points, primarily with excellent net play to win the 2nd set. Serving at 40-0 in the third game of the 3rd set the rain started coming down and play was suspended. Unfortunately for Murray, the decision was made to close the roof on Centre Court, transforming the match into an indoor 3-set match on a grass court, basically ideal conditions for the 16-time major champion. In the 6th game of the 3rd set Murray was at 40-0 when suddenly things got complicated and there were ten deuces, with Federer having 6 break points and Murray's serve. The game was more than 20 minutes long, with Murray repeatedly getting out of trouble with big serves. Eventually, the young Briton succumbed and Federer was able to hold serve to maintain his lead and claim the 3rd set with a 1-break lead 6-3. In the fourth set, Murray barely missed a forehand down-the-line passing shot on a breakpoint in Federer's first service game but then lost his own serve in his 3nd service game and Federer was able to calmly hold serve without incident to win the 4th set with another 1-break lead 6-4.

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