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Ninth Wimbledon final for Roger Federer

Roger Federer chips a backhand
by Ron Atkin
Friday 4 July 2014

Wimbledon history beckons again for Roger Federer. On Sunday the Swiss will contest his ninth final – having won seven of the previous eight – after defeating Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour 41 minutes by managing the considerable feat of blunting the principal weapon of one of the game’s most powerful servers.

Raonic hammered 17 aces but, calling on the skills he has honed over the years to collect more Grand Slam titles than any other player, the 32-year-old Federer struck at the identical moment in the second and third sets of this semi-final to wreck the Canadian’s hopes of emulating his compatriot Eugenie Bouchard’s feat of a place in a Wimbledon final.

Sunday’s final against Novak Djokovic will be Federer’s 25th Grand Slam final, of which he has won a record 17, and the giant Raonic never looked capable of interrupting such majestic progress. Possibly a little nervous, he double-faulted in the opening game and Federer seized the opportunity to break serve. “I grabbed it and then ran with it,” said Federer afterwards. “It was important to stay ahead and get the first set under my belt.” And it was to be the only break in a first set in which Raonic managed to produce the occasional flashing winner to show that he is not just Mr. Big Server.

His fastest serve was timed at 138 miles an hour and though Federer’s deliveries were of modest pace by comparison they had the priceless merit of being on target and he produced only one double-fault.
Raonic had just the one chance to get back into the first set with a break point in the eighth game but it was Federer, for a change, whose ability to conjure up aces – three of them in this one game – managed to douse the threat.

Federer would strike only three more aces in the whole contest but his serving was of the highest class and it simply became a question of when Raonic would buckle. The Canadian had a fall in the eighth game of the second set (the only time either man went down on the worn court) but it was surely a coincidence that Raonic surrendered serve in the next game after double-faulting again and then wildly mistiming a smash, with the break being achieved by Federer’s best stroke, a searing backhand down the line.

The rallies were even shorter in a service-dominated third set but the break, and the end of Raonic’s hopes, again came in the ninth game with a flurry of unforced errors which left Federer an uninvolved but gratified spectator. When Federer served for a place in the final it was once more a Raonic error, an overhit backhand service return which ended what had been a rather one-sided contest in which the Swiss was at his majestic best and Raonic lamenting that he was “disappointed with the level I put out because I know I can do much better.”

Federer said he was “extremely happy” about his ninth Wimbledon final, adding, “It was not easy but I got it done and now I can look forward to another great match with Novak.” And to cap a day on which the news was unrelentingly good, he will now move back to third in the world rankings and become the top-ranked man in Switzerland, above Stan Wawrinka again.

Federer has reached the final having dropped serve just once in six games and he said, “My game is back where I hoped it would be from one year ago. Things were so difficult most of last year, so I’m happy I worked hard off the court to get myself back into shape and back into contention for tournaments. This year’s been very solid , I’ve reached a lot of semis and finals and also got two titles already, so I think that really gave me confidence to believe I could go a step further.”

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

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