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Sports

Federer rises in rankings after Wimbledon triumph

media Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Roger Federer rose to number three in the world rankings on Monday thanks to his record eighth Wimbledon title gained after a 6-3 6-1 6-4 annihilation of the injury hit seventh seed Marin Cilic.

Federer has held the number one spot for a record 302 weeks and jump from fifth to third place behind Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will be a footnote following his feats at the All England Lawn Tennis Club on 16 July.

The Swiss stands alone in the 140 year history of the championships in south-west London.

Since 2012 Federer has shared the acclaim of seven titles with Pete Sampras and Wille Renshaw. The latter harvested his crop between 1881 and 1889, the former between 1993 and 2000.

Federer's first success came at the age of 21 in 2003 after beating Mark Philipoussis in straight sets. Fourteen years on and a month shy of his 36th birthday, he has burnished his legend.

"I've been consistent and I've never shied away from the big stage," he said as he reflected on a 19th Grand Slam trophy. "I've always felt that I've played my best on the biggest courts. That was always going to be a good thing. I felt I dreamed pretty big as a kid.

"I believed that things were possible that perhaps others thought were never going to be achievable. I think I have trained really hard and really well over all the years. I've had wonderful amazing people around me who have kept me grounded," he added.

Family's backing

The family phalanx was out in full force for the triumph on the Centre Court where he announced his talent in 2001 with his last 16 victory over Sampras. His mother, Lynette, father Robert, as well as the player's four children with his wife Mirka were all there.

In truth, the vast majority of the 15,000 spectators were kin too, cooing at the silky genius gliding over the hallowed strip of green that he calls home.

"Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament and it will always be my favourite tournament," said Federer. "My heroes walked the courts here and to mark history here at Wimbledon really means a lot to me just because of that.

"I am just so happy to win again because it has been a long road and it has been tough at times but that's how it is supposed to be."

Following defeats in the 2014 and 2015 finals to Djokovic and elimination in 2016 in the semi-finals, Federer appeared destined to be the nearly man when imperator status beckoned. Following last year's five set loss to Milos Raonic in the last four, he took six months out to recover from a wounded knee.

He emerged at the start of 2017 to claim the Australian Open. He followed up his 18th Grand Slam crown with titles on the American hardcourts in Indian Wells and Miami. A respite from the tour was announced.

Break works wonders

With the clay court season spurned, he returned in June for the grass court event in Stuttgart. A defeat in the first round there to the veteran Tommy Haas prompted questions over the wisdom of the pause. But a title in Halle - his ninth at the venue - quietened the criticism. Another hoisting of the Gentleman's Singles Trophy at Wimbledon should sear any debate.

"Just because I took a break, it doesn't mean that everyone should take a break," he said. "Some players need to play and they need to play every other day otherwise they feel they completely lose touch with the racquet and the ball and the body goes all funny on them.

"For me a break really worked wonders. I'm surprised it did as much as it did but I had to take some tough decisions like pulling out of the clay court season and the French Open. In hindsight it looks so simple but it's not."

Rivlas hit by health problems

Federer was the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win Wimbledon without dropping a set. He is also the oldest winner of the title since tennis became a professional sport in 1968. He surged to supremacy while his younger rivals in the Big Four waned.

Thirty-year-old Murray, the defending champion, succumbed to a hip injury during his quarter-final loss to Sam Querrey. Djokovic, 30, retired from his last eight clash when his elbow gave up the ghost. And 31-year-old Nadal was ousted in the last 16 after a five-hour five-setter. Cilic, a sprightly 28, by comparison, was felled by a blister on his left foot which impeded his movement.

Federer hailed the Croatian a hero for playing through the pain. Against another, Cilic, who had served 127 aces in the six matches preceding the final, might have been able to bluff and blast his way to triumph.

Only five aces went past Federer on Sunday. The one that clinched the crown was Federer's eighth. Fitting.

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