Last August, Roger Federer got the reassurance he needed that his knee would one day be strong enough for him to return to competition.

He had decided to pack in for the season after Wimbledon, due to recurrent injuries, and agreed to go for a hike with his parents on the trails around his mountain retreat near Chur in eastern Switzerland.

They ended up walking for six hours, much longer than Federer had expected, and by the day's end, he reckoned his knee would allow him to be back soon enough.

What he could not have envisaged was that, by tomorrow morning (NZT), he might be the holder of two Grand Slam titles in 2017, providing he can defeat world No 6 Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon final.


Federer loves the mountains and after winning January's Australian Open, he spent some time exploring them with British adventurer Bear Grylls, who has been a visitor to the Royal Box this week.

According to one of Federer's closest friends in tennis, Tim Henman, it is the Swiss's ability to embrace the joys of life outside the sport that is among the keys to his longevity and success.

"That was reflected in how comfortable he was in his time away from the game last year," says Henman. "He loves going on holiday with his family or going hiking.

"He has an amazing balance to his life and that helps him keep perspective on the court."

Even in his briefer break during the recent clay-court season, Federer stayed active. Among the things he did was attend Pippa Middleton's society wedding, the Met Gala in New York and raise millions for his charitable foundation, by playing doubles with Bill Gates at an event in Seattle.

Henman has been a visitor to Federer's large rented home during Wimbledon and even there, tennis does not suffocate the atmosphere.

"He leaves his tennis at the door," says Henman. "He drops his racket bags and loves rolling around on the floor with his kids.

"There are always people around."

Federer has two sets of twins and the person who oversees the massive logistic operation of them all travelling the Tour together is wife Mirka.

She is Federer's staunchest supporter and the quietly formidable Mrs Federer is never far from the decision process in plotting his extraordinary career. He acknowledged as much, after his defeat of Tomas Berdych in Friday's semifinal.

He says: "It's just discussions I always have - continuous discussions with my wife about the family, my kids, is everybody happy on Tour?

"Are we happy to pack up and go on tour for five, six, seven weeks? Are we willing to do that?

"For the time being, it seems like absolutely no problem, which is wonderful."

Mirka helps run his life with the efficiency of a Swiss clock, enabling him to find time for a huge portfolio of endorsements that has boosted his worth to somewhere north of £300million ($NZ534.5million).

He might earn less in a year than LeBron James, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but in terms of being a long-term, pristine, individual sports brand, he probably has no equal.

And there are signs that he is already thinking of life beyond tennis.

One of them is the debut, this year, of the Laver Cup, something along the lines of golf's Ryder Cup, which hopes to pit the best of Europe's men against the rest of the world.

Taking place in Prague in September, it is being promoted by his management company, Team 8, and Federer is deeply involved.

Within tennis, there is fascination (and probably envy) surrounding the event. Not every top player is committed to it and Asian star Kei Nishikori has already dealt a blow, by indicating he will not be there.

There is plenty riding on it for Federer's reputation within the game. If the best players are there it could fly, but if too many skip it, it will be nothing more than a glorified exhibition.

Irrespective of that, Federer remains an energetic raiser of funds for his eponymous charity and also uses his global clout for other good causes.

This year, he has a reciprocal arrangement to play a charity exhibition with Andy Murray and when tickets went on sale for November's Glasgow appearance, they sold out in record time.

Those who dived in might now find themselves watching the two most recent Wimbledon champions and the reason is that, whatever else Federer does, he does not compromise on the work needed to underpin his tennis.

He prepares as meticulously as anyone and nobody in the game has scheduled themselves as smartly as him in recent years.

In fact, it will worry the game's authorities that his experimenting with taking long breaks has proved such a success that the practice will catch on among other leading players.

The evidence suggests that he will win tonight's final, although it is unlikely to be a cakewalk against the player who always looked the main threat to the "Big Four" at this year's Wimbledon.

If you had a concern about Federer, it would be that his nerve might crack. He has been the favourite since the start here, unlike in Australia, where he came in with no expectations.

So far, there has been little sign of him wobbling, and he held steady on Friday on Berdych's break points and in the tiebreaks.

Win or lose, Federer is vague about his playing plans. About the only certainty is that he will leave a massive void when he is gone.

- Daily Mail