LONDON – Three quick thoughts on the men’s championship match at Wimbledon 2017.
• It was obviously not the final anybody wanted, and that includes Roger Federer. But we should start with the history. A few weeks from turning 36, Federer wins a record eighth Wimbledon title, defeating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes. He didn’t drop a set for the entire tournament and he did it at the same dizzyingly-high level that he achieved in his mid-twenties. He’s will now be ranked No. 3 in the ATP rankings. He’s won two of the three majors in 2017 and he’s likely to finish the year No. 1. Unfortunately today was as much about a compromised opponent than his tennis, but credit Federer with having the focus to do what was necessary.
He now holds a four major lead over Rafael Nadal. This Wimbledon title is a tally in the GOAT column, but more than that, it says so much about his professionalism that he’s bookmarked Wimbledon titles 14 years apart.
• Pity Marin Cilic. For six rounds, he played brilliant grasscourt tennis. He came within a point of beating Federer last year, and all things being equal, had a real shot of winning the match on Sunday. As we write this we don’t know the full extent of his injury, and we’re reluctant to speculate, but late in the first set it was clear that he was both physically and emotionally compromised. We’re minutes after the match so we don’t know exactly what happened, but Cilic’s emotions on court does make clear how brutal tennis can be and how exposed players are. Cilic is someone known to be a cool and mellow guy, and he’s already won a major, and even he can get emotional playing for a Wimbledon title.
You hope he takes away the positive. Here’s a guy who’s already won one major, he’s younger than any of the Big Five, and he’s won 10 matches at Wimbledon over the last two years. He’s firmly in the top 10. But he’ll need some time to recover from this unhappy final.
• Let’s stand back and consider this year in men’s tennis. The player who had won four straight majors a year ago is in distress. The player who started the year No. 1 is also going through some difficulties, battling injuries. And as they have receded, two old favorites have ascended. If you stop the rankings right now, Federer and Nadal would be No. 1 and No. 2. They have won all three of the majors this year. It would only be fitting if they played at the U.S. Open, the one major in which they’ve never faced each other.