Age-defying Roger Federer admits he is shocked by the scale of his renaissance after sealing his second grand slam of 2017 and a record eighth Wimbledon title with victory over Marin Cilic.
Federer defeated Cilic, who broke down in tears at one stage after struggling with a blister on his foot, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, on Centre Court to become the oldest male in the Open Era to win at the All England Club.
It was the 19th grand slam crown of the 35-year-old’s career and his second of the year following Australian Open success in January, which was his first since triumphing on the SW19 lawns in 2012.
Two major titles in a matter of months seemed implausible when Federer was sidelined for six months during the second half of last year with a knee injury. The Swiss, however, insists that he always retained faith in his grand slam-winning credentials.
“I truly believed,” said Federer, whose latest Wimbledon victory will see him bank £2.2m in prize money.
“[But] I’m incredibly surprised how well this year is going, how well I’m feeling, how things are turning out on the courts, how I’m managing tougher situations and where my level of play is on a daily basis. I’m surprised that it’s this good.
“I knew I could do great again maybe one day, but not at this level. So I guess people would have laughed, too, if I told them I was going to win two slams this year. People wouldn’t believe me if I said that. I also didn’t believe that I was going to win two this year.
“But it’s incredible. I don’t know how much longer it is going to last. I have no idea. But I’ve just got to always remind myself that health comes first at his point. If I do that, maybe things are actually possible I didn’t think were.”
An eighth Wimbledon title moved Federer ahead of Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, who won their seventh crowns in 2000 and 1889 respectively. Only Martina Navratilova, with nine, has more SW19 singles gongs.
With a haul of 19 grand slams, Federer, who is set to rise to world No3 in Monday's updated rankings, has extended his lead over Rafael Nadal in the men’s game to four, while he is joint-fourth on the all-time list, five behind Margaret Court.
The match itself proved a formality for Federer, who became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the championships without dropping a set.
The sense of inevitability was intensified when Cilic was visibly upset at 3-0 in the second set as it looked as though the blister would force the first withdrawal from a men’s singles final at Wimbledon since 1911. Cilic manfully persevered, but to no avail, as Federer ruthlessly dispatched the Croatian.