Master act

Master act

His silken strokes and smooth strides have long ago carried Roger Federer to a plane reserved only for the truly greats of tennis. There is hardly a venue in the world where Federer hasn’t left his stamp of authority, with the quiet efficiency with which he dismantles his rivals’ games being a joy to behold. But even the Swiss master seemed powerless against the march of time when he failed in his quest to add to his collection of 16 Grand Slam singles titles in the last two years. The grit of Novak Djokovic and the never-say-die spirit of Rafael Nadal had successfully loosened the grip Federer had on the men’s game and the critics were ready to write him off as a force to reckon with in the Grand Slam events. One man, though, never doubted his ability -- Federer himself -- and he was back on the biggest stage in the game on Sunday to script a triumph that will answer his doubters.

Andy Murray and the thousands of Britons who thronged Wimbledon would have seen a strand of hope when Federer lost the first set of the final but in a display of shot-making that was as exciting as it was exhilarating, the genial champion stormed away with the next three for another crown. Federer’s seventh title at Wimbledon —  his 17th Grand Slam singles title — did not just put him on par with past masters Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, it also elevated him to the top of the world rankings for a record-equalling 286th week. At 30, Federer, knows he is not quite where he was a few years ago. He isn’t close to the finishline also -- at least not yet -- and on Sunday’s evidence, when he produced shots of sublime brilliance almost at will, it will only be the foolish who will ignore him.

Dreams also took wings in the women’s final where Serena Williams claimed her fifth title. When fit and when in mood, there aren’t many who can match the pace and power of the American’s shots but plagued by injuries, Serena has struggled to make her presence felt even as rivals with half her abilities ruled the women’s game. Normal service was finally restored in London, with clear pointers emerging on where the Olympics gold could be headed at the same venue in a month’s time.

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