Defeat has a dignity that noisy victory does not have. On Sunday, July 5, Andy Roddick was neither a victim nor a loser. A man who has perennially doubted his game, he never fails to meet expectations because no one expects him to win. His chances at victory over Federer was dead before the match commenced, but on Sunday, they were alive and well like a new born baby. This makes sense because, on Sunday, Roddick was reborn. In the past six months, Roddick may have re-invented himself and it was very evident as he served like a champion, served like he meant to win. And for much of the match, it seemed that Roddick would emulate Nadal's feat as he hammered away at his opponent. But in the end, Roddick’s dream of winning Wimbledon was shattered while Federer was knocking on the door of greatness. After four and a quarter hours, Federer finally overcame Andy Roddick in a 30-game fifth set, the longest in 123 year old Wimbledon history, to claim a record 15th Grand Slam title. It was a momentous one, as Pete Sampras, with whom Federer had shared the record following his French Open victory; other greats such as Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg were all in the Royal Box to see history made.
Federer has won Wimbledon before and done so with tennis of beauty and wonder. It was sad to see that Roger was far from his best level in this final as the score line suggests 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. He couldn’t play relaxed and his shot selection weren’t precise. He didn’t look alert and inspired; rather the burden of history was eating his game. But credit goes to the champ, who knows how to improvise and stay solid in his serve even when he's not playing his best. At the tightest and tensest moments, Federer would push himself with a quietly growled “C’mon!” They are not as loud or as aggressive, screamed with blood vessels bulging and eyes popping (like Hewitt), but they are every bit as terrifying. It means, Federer going for the kill. Federer wavered a few times, but never toppled and in the end won on merit. This may not have been Federer at his most brilliant, at his most artistic, but it was Federer at his most ferociously determined.
Critics are back saying, Roger won today because he got "lucky"; my foot. "Luck" does not lead to a 19-2 record against someone, and it will definitely not see you through 15 Grand Slam victories. Roddick played the game of his life. Nobody could have wanted it more than Roddick. But Federer was better at actually getting it. Federer showed that he was that tiniest bit better when it came to outlasting. However, more than the best man won, tennis fans are the biggest winners. We saw the best final that two professionals could play. Congrats to Andy and Roger for a great final!
When Sampras set the record in 2002, winning the US Open final, no one believed it could be bettered. Sampras certainly knew there was nothing left for him to achieve in the sport and never played competitively again. But Federer has set a new standard and he is nowhere near finished yet. But from now on, when this weight has been lifted off his mind, there is no limit what he can achieve and is free to play and win for as long as he likes. And Federer, released from that stultifying pressure of chasing history, may yet reach even greater heights. Hail the King!!