Switzerland’s Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in one of the most extraordinary finals ever seen at Wimbledon on Sunday, holding off an incredible challenge from the American to win 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14.
The final set alone of an unforgettable Centre Court duel lasted 95 minutes before Roddick’s mishit forehand gave Federer his sixth Wimbledon title and the record of 15 Grand Slam titles he so cherished.
Fittingly, Pete Sampras, the only other man to have previously won 14 Slams, was in the Royal Box as a match of unrelenting drama stretched into a fifth hour.
“Andy I want to say you’re going to come back and win one, I’m sure,” Federer said on court as a shattered Roddick contemplated his third defeat to Federer in a Wimbledon final.
“Today I was on the lucky side. It feels funny to have the trophy back. It feels great. It was a crazy match, my head’s still spinning. It’s an unbelievable moment in my career.”
Few imagined that Federer’s seventh consecutive Wimbledon final could come anywhere near close to emulating last year’s epic when he lost his crown to Rafael Nadal – a five-set thriller that ended in near darkness.
The Swiss, who claimed his first French Open title last month to complete his career Grand Slam, dropped just one set in reaching the final and had won 18 of his previous 20 matches against the American who is still waiting for a second career Grand Slam title after winning the US Open in 2003.
Roddick has reinvented his game though in the last 12 months after his career began to slide; and after stunning British hope Andy Murray in the semi-final he came agonisingly close to another shock.
Federer was stretched to the limit in an unforgettable duel of enery-sapping tension despite firing 107 winners.
After losing the first set he was then reeling in the second set tiebreak as Roddick moved 6-2 ahead and seemed set to move two sets clear. Federer then won six consecutive points to level the match, Roddick wasting one golden chance at 6-5 when he sent a backhand volley wide.
Federer could make no headway on the Roddick serve but remained solid on his own delivery to win the third set on another tiebreak 7-5.
Roddick, beaten twice in previous finals at Wimbledon by Federer, refused to buckle and broke at a crucial moment of the fourth with a great backhand to set up an enthralling decider.
With Wimbledon greats Sampras, Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver watching intently from the Royal Box, Federer kept his nose in front in a nerve-racking decider and clinched victory after four hours and 16 minutes when Roddick’s resistance finally cracked and the Swiss broke serve for the first time in the match.