Tennis: King Roger makes it seven and 17

By James Lawton

The centre court didn't get its British champion, it didn't have any healing of the 76-year-old wound, but it was maybe not the worst of fates.

It just had to go on sharing the champion of the world, the player who is nominally Swiss but above all the property of any nation that can rise up and salute the kind of talent that crosses all borders as though they do not exist.

This may not be the cure-all for the pain of Andy Murray, who could not be challenged for a second when he declared that he put in by far his best performance of four Grand Slam final appearances, but for Roger Federer, the man who breaks records and hearts with supreme artistry and a natural-born winning instinct, there was still another reward for quite unprecedented consistency, in the form of a 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 victory.

When the rain forced on the centre court roof, it meant that Federer's forensically precise game would make Murray's dream of being the first home-grown player to win the title since 1936 even more remote.

Murray fought on with character and spirit, but he knew he was in the grip of something close to a force of nature.

It was a brilliant final in so many ways, so luminously expressing the finest quality of two deeply talented players that it had to be rated the best since 2008.

If that sounds like mild praise we just have to remember that the one four years ago was arguably the greatest of all time. It was also deemed historic because it seemed to signal the end of Federer's finest days, the passing of the time when he could go out and explain to a ferocious young challenger like Rafael Nadal some of the most deadly nuances of the game.

Four years on, Federer is suggesting he has made some kind of deal with fate and the passing of the years.

Murray could hardly have played better, more intelligently or with better discipline. He played shots that were sublime. He fought, he scuffled and for more than three hours he consigned the memory of a superbly gifted but self-indulgent nearly man to another lifetime.

He was, to put it another way, a credit to the old champion Ivan Lendl, who has brought a new aura of hard-nosed professionalism to the Murray camp.

Murray's campaign died, effectively, in the sixth game of the third set. He went into it 2-3 with service, fighting with all the edge and touch that had carried the first set with a confidence that had ambushed Federer.

Not only had Federer surrendered that opening set, he had been made to look tentative and now Murray, though no doubt smarting over missed opportunities in the second set, had every reason to believe that he could regain a winning momentum. It was a belief reinforced by an easy march to 40-0, a position of strength that came in the wake of an extraordinary backhand passing shot which left Federer stunned for at least a moment.

In fact, it had the effect of concentrating his mind. What followed was tennis superbly on the edge. Murray had seven game points. There were 10 deuces and it was on the seventh break point that Federer turned the match, gave himself an edge that he never looked likely to surrender. There were times when Federer's extraordinary skill threatened to utterly engulf his opponent.

But Murray was simply not for disintegration, at least not until the final stages of the fourth set when all the world knew that Federer was about to draw level with Pete Sampras on the mark of seven Wimbledon wins - and move to his 17th Grand Slam triumph, the champion of champions.

When the wounds have healed Murray will be able to tell himself that he did all he could.

- Independent

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