Roger Federer at Wimbledon: Five classic matches to mark Swiss maestro's title anniversary

By Sports Desk July 16, 2022

Roger Federer won his eighth Wimbledon men's singles title on July 16, 2017, when he swatted aside Marin Cilic to move past Pete Sampras and Willian Renshaw on the all-time list.

The Swiss great spurned match points against Novak Djokovic in the 2019 final, and in all likelihood it will be eight and out for Federer.

To mark five years since that last triumph, when Federer picked apart a blister-hit Cilic, Stats Perform has selected five Wimbledon classics featuring the 20-time grand slam winner.

It would have been easy to select many more, with Federer having won 105 of his 119 singles matches at Wimbledon, but these stick in the mind.

 

2001: Sinking Sampras, announcing impending greatness

Three years on from winning the boys' singles title, it was a 19-year-old Federer who came to Wimbledon 2001 in pursuit of a first main-draw win. He had lost in round one in 1999 and 2000, to Jiri Novak and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, but his talent was becoming widely known. This time Federer advanced to the quarter-finals, fending off Christophe Rochus, Xavier Malisse and Jonas Bjorkman, before running into the great Pete Sampras in round four.

Sampras had mopped up four in a row and seven of the last eight men's singles titles at Wimbledon, but the American's reign would be ended by the teenage Federer, a sensational 7-6 (9-7) 5-7 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 winner.

The beaten Sampras offered a prescient comment after the match, saying: "There are a lot of young guys coming up, and Roger is one of them. But I think he's a little extra special than some of the other guys."

Federer would lose to Tim Henman in the quarters of a tournament that was won by wildcard Goran Ivanisevic, and in 2002 Federer crashed to Mario Ancic in round one, but from 2003 to 2007 the man from Basle was unbeatable in SW19, lifting the title five years in succession.

This was the victory that made him believe it possible.

2008: Nadal halts Federer charge

Federer's glory run had taken in final wins over Mark Philippoussis, Andy Roddick (twice) and Rafael Nadal, also on two occasions. When it came to the 2008 trilogy clash between the five-time champion and the Spanish youngster, the previous year's five-set title match had pointed to likely fireworks.

In 2007, Federer had fended off a charge from the Spaniard to breeze through the decider, but it would be a different story third time around. Perhaps the greatest Wimbledon final in living memory was capped by late-night drama as Federer, who had not dropped a set until the showpiece match, roared back from a two-set deficit, saving match points in the fourth-set tie-break, to set up a winner-takes-all finale.

Earlier rain delays meant it was 21:15 BST when Nadal crossed the winning line, the clay-court king triumphing 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 after four hours and 48 minutes of a raging, breathtaking battle to bring to an end Federer's reign on grass.

2009: After one trilogy final, could Roddick defy Federer in another?

Journalist: How would you describe what you did today?

Andy Roddick: I lost.

That press conference exchange just about summed up Roddick's floored state of mind after he succumbed 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14 to Federer in their third Wimbledon final.

The American played a spectacularly great match over four hours and 16 minutes and yet was still beaten by his long-time rival, whose victory gave him a record 15th men's grand slam title, as 14-time winner Sampras watched on.

Federer served 50 aces that day, many of them in a staggering tense final set, simply refusing to lose.

2010: Saving face against Falla

A year on from the Roddick epic, Federer was plunged into another in round one when Colombian left-hander Alejandro Falla looked like pulling off an upset for the ages.

Falla was the talk of the sporting world when he snatched the first two sets, and the world number 60 had three break points against Federer's serve at 4-4 in the third.

Federer clung on, and in the fourth he again repelled the danger when Falla served for the match at 5-4 ahead. From that point, having spurned glorious opportunities to close it out, Falla faded and ended up losing 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) 6-0.

It was a reminder that Federer can be a scrapper too, winning on off days, refusing to submit to humiliation.

2016: Cilic classic leaves Federer "ecstatic"

This was the quarter-final that fuelled hopes the meeting of Federer and Cilic in the 2017 final would prove to be another Wimbledon masterpiece.

That title match, a year later, proved an anti-climax, but this tussle in the last eight was spellbinding, with Cilic going two sets clear and having three match points in the fourth.

Having beaten Federer in the US Open semi-finals two years previous, Cilic again produced lights-out tennis, only to find the great champion across the net stubbornly refusing to give ground as the match reached its climax.

Federer scrambled admirably to snatch a 6-7 (4-7) 4-6 6-3 7-6 (11-9) 6-3 victory, saying: "I'm ecstatic I was able to come through. It wasn't going well for me, so it was about staying in the match somehow, hoping for his level to drop maybe a little bit, and get a little bit lucky. It was an incredible match."

He could not keep it going, losing another five-setter to Milos Raonic in the semi-finals, but Federer would be back a year later to land his eighth, and surely last, Wimbledon title.

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