Federer: the dawning of a new sun king

Great and good of the game unite in wonder at artistry and artillery of a champion reaching his peak

Such has been the Alp-high adulation heaped on Roger Federer in the last few days by assorted authorities on the game and in the game that the Wimbledon champion must be glad of one thing: that he is Swiss, not British. Just imagine the Henman-type hoopla if Roger the Terminator were about to go out and win the Gentlemen's Singles Championship for the old country.

Boris Becker, pretty high-profile himself on the lawns of SW19 in his time, is particularly taken by Federer, who is, he says, "playing the game in a way that I haven't seen anyone play before". Becker adds: "Federer's levels are levels above everyone else's, and if he stays healthy and motivated he is the kind of guy who can overtake the greatest."

The fact that Federer is doing so well despite having sacked his coach, Peter Lundgren, towards the end of last year is, according to John McEnroe, "living proof that you don't need a coach". For Andrew Castle, "he makes it look as though he was born to do this, and that this is his stage", while John Lloyd is entranced by "his ability to hit winners from any part of the court and to make the difficult look easy".

Though, strangely, he managed occasionally to make the easy look difficult yesterday, Federer eventually saw off Sébastien Grosjean in straight sets inside half an hour when they resumed their semi-final at noon on Centre Court. He needed four match-points to do the job, and in the process of winning in straight sets, 6-2 6-3 7-6, dropped serve for only the second time at this Wimbledon.

When the players were driven off Centre Court by a combination of rain and poor light on Friday evening, Federer was 4-3 ahead in the third set. He should have wrapped it up in three games. Leading 5-4, he held two match-points on the Grosjean serve, but a combination of bold serving by the Frenchman and a couple of erratic forehand returns by Federer kept Grosjean alive.

Even worse was to follow for someone whose path has been exceptionally smooth so far. An outrageous forehand mis-hit put the Swiss break-point down, and he dropped serve on another forehand error, for only the second time this fortnight. However, any ambitions Grosjean had of extending the match into a fourth set and possibly putting back the start of the women's final were rapidly disabused. Clearly nettled at his own poor play, Federer broke Grosjean with contemptuous ease, concluding with a breathtaking cross-court forehand which bulleted past the incoming 10th seed.

But Federer was not to get away without a further indication that, on given days, he can be fallible. He allowed Grosjean to run up a 4-0 lead in the tie-break before sweeping the next five points, missing a third match-point at 6-5 and then conjuring another with a delicate forehand drop-shot and finishing it off, matador fashion, with a trademark smash. That combination of touch and tempest is what makes Federer so special a player and so difficult for the opposition to read. No shot seems beyond the scope of his sharp eye and powerful wrist, and his cross-court groundstrokes on both wings are things of beauty.

He is a marketing person's dream. How fortuitous, then, that Federer's parents and his girlfriend, Miroslava Vavrinec, known as Mirka, have set up just such a company to sell the Basle-born player. His father, Robert, is Swiss and his mother, Lynette, is a South African who gave up her job with a pharmaceutical company to work full-time on promoting her son.

The company promptly brought out a perfume called "RF", and ever since there has been a sweet smell of success for him. He has won five titles so far this year, including his second Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open.

So does he, too, consider himself unbeatable now? "No," he said in the aftermath of the Grosjean match. "I always feel my opponent has a chance. Of course this year has been fantastic for me, but it's still very difficult for me to understand why and how I'm so dominant this year. Hardly lost a serve, hardly lost a set. For me, it's very difficult to explain how it comes. I just try to focus for every match, and it seems like it's really working out for me. I guess the grass suits my game."

It certainly does. Going into this afternoon's final Federer is riding a streak of 23 consecutive grass-court wins, eclipsing Pete Sampras, and if he retains the title he will be second-best to Bjorn Borg, who clocked up what is surely an unsurpassable 41 matches unbeaten at Wimbledon from 1976 to 1981.

"My goals for this year are to stay at No 1, to defend this title and to play well at the Olympics," said Federer. "After Sunday, one goal is gone, either positive or negative. But long-term, I don't have a big plan to win I don't know how many Grand Slams, or to win so many tournaments. I will rethink my goals for the next year at the end of this year."

While professing not to know whether he is a better player than the one who won Wimbledon last year, Federer added: "I think I am a more complete player, more secure. I know what I have to do now, whereas last year, because I had never won a Grand Slam, I didn't. That is the main change in me. This is only my third Grand Slam final and I'm very thrilled and very happy, even though my matches have been rather easy, so I couldn't make any somersaults."

As for feeling at home on Centre Court, Federer was modest. "I'm still very young and I still need some time to call it home. But I feel welcome, very welcome, in this place as a member now. The chairman [Tim Phillips] always says hello, we always like to chat."

Federer revealed that when he parted company with Lundgren, he received lots of offers of help. "A lot of people wanted to tell me what to do and what not to do because I was without a coach. In the beginning a lot of people came up to me and told me I needed help. A lot of people were writing me emails, telling me I was doing this or that wrong. But I just listened to the people I really trust and believe in. That is why I am taking my time over a new coach. I don't just want someone to travel with me. If I want to work with a coach again it will be to improve my game. Anything else would be wrong."

Finally, Federer admitted that he gets "very nervous" before a final. Just as well, then, that he is Swiss, and not British, on Centre Court this afternoon.

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Sport
bottom
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee