Wimbledon 2017

Federer looks to smash mark, Cilic not giving him a break

Roger Federer beats Croatian Marin Cilic in under two hours to clinch his eighth Wimbledon title.
Switzerland's Roger Federer during his men's singles semi-final match during the 2017 Wimbledon Championships on July 14, 2017.
Switzerland's Roger Federer during his men's singles semi-final match during the 2017 Wimbledon Championships on July 14, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Five years after his last Wimbledon triumph, Roger Federer can capture a record eighth Wimbledon title today and become the tennis tournament's oldest men's champion of the modern era.

With his 36th birthday fast approaching, the Swiss will comfortably succeed Arthur Ashe, who was almost 32 when he won in 1975.

Victory over Marin Cilic will also give him a 19th career Grand Slam title and second in three Slams this year after sweeping to a fifth Australian Open triumph in January, following a six-month absence from the sport to recover from a knee injury.

"I was hoping to be in good shape when the grass-court season came around," said Federer, who also pocketed back-to-back Masters titles at Indian Wells and Miami as well as a ninth Halle grass-court crown. "The first three, four months were like a dream really. So this is something I was working towards. I'm happy it's paying off."

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Today's match will be his 102nd at Wimbledon and his 29th final at the Grand Slams.

"It makes me really happy, making history at Wimbledon. It's a big deal. I love this tournament," added the Swiss, who has been tied with Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon titles since beating Andy Murray in the 2012 final.

Federer boasts a 6-1 career record over Cilic, 28, the 2014 US Open champion who has made his first Wimbledon final at the 11th attempt.

However, Cilic's game is made for grass and 12 months ago he led Federer by two sets to love and held three match points in an epic quarter-final in which the Swiss eventually claimed.

"I don't want to say it's more relaxed going into it because I have a good head-to-head record against Marin," said Federer.

Cilic is only the second Croatian man to reach the Wimbledon final after Goran Ivanisevic, his former coach, who won the title in 2001.

A win today would also make him the first Wimbledon champion apart from Federer, Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal since Lleyton Hewitt triumphed in 2002.

However, he has won only one of his last 12 matches against a top-five player at the Grand Slams.

"Obviously I'm going to look back on 12 months ago when I was one point away from winning a match against him here. But it's still a big mountain to climb," Cilic said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WIMBLEDON

Men's singles final, Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 8.30pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline 'Federer looks to smash mark, Cilic not giving him a break'. Print Edition | Subscribe