The greatest has returned.
Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam in more than two years on Sunday, defeating Andy Murray in a tight major final 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to win his record-tying seventh Wimbledon championship. The victory returns Federer to No. 1 and will tie him with Pete Sampras with a record 286 weeks atop the ATP rankings. He should pass Sampras next week.
The 30-year-old becomes the oldest winner of Wimbledon since Arthur Ashe in 1975. He joins Serena Williams, who won the ladies' championship on Saturday, as victors in their fourth decade.
The win also adds another Slam to Federer's record total. He now has 17, six ahead of his closest active competitor, Rafael Nadal. This victory likely puts that mark out of reach for the Spaniard, who was bounced in the second round at the All England Club. It's a powerful reminder that Federer, who many consider the greatest player of all time, is far from an afterthought in the age of Nadal and Novak Djokovic. And it may end up solidifying his spot as the top tennis player in history.
Murray played brilliant tennis for much of the final. Gone was the tentative, nervous youngster who failed to win a set in his first three Grand Slam finals -- two of which were against Federer. He established the tone early with a break of Federer's serve and continued his aggressive play throughout the match.
But for as good as Murray was, Federer was even better. The Swiss master was effortlessly sublime in victory. His level of play was as great as it was when he won five straight titles from 2004 through 2008. Federer was nearly flawless with his groundstrokes, save for a few of his routine mishits, and his net game was vintage. If not for the big serve and baseline rallies, it would have felt like the 1980s. Nearly every volley landed where Federer aimed. It was a virtuoso performance from the man who has given Center Court so many.
A closed roof provided a different feel than his previous six titles. After a torrential downpour in the third set, Wimbledon officials closed the roof while the players were tied at 1-1 with one set each. The controlled conditions seemed to help Federer, who gained speed on his serve and was more precise with his forehand. He only faced one break point once the match moved indoors.
The match swung at 3-2 in the third set during a game that lasted almost 20 minutes. For 26 points, Federer and Murray battled, changing strategies, diving for shots and thrilling the packed crowd. Murray saved five break points but failed to close out four game points. On his sixth break point, Federer pushed Murray to the right with a wide forehand, then sent him left with another. When the Scotsman's return fell into the net, Federer had his break and the momentum shift that accompanied it.
Murray's temper made its first appearance during that epic game. He slammed his racquet down after one of the points and shouted toward his box repeatedly, a quirk he had managed to keep in check for the first part of the match.
When Murray hit a forehand long on match point, Federer fell to the ground, looked at his wife and raised him arms in triumph. The king is back.
Thirty is the new No. 1.
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