Federer beats Roddick for Wimbledon title - East Valley Tribune: News

Federer beats Roddick for Wimbledon title

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Posted: Sunday, July 4, 2004 4:35 pm | Updated: 5:30 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

WIMBLEDON, England - Roger Federer is tough to faze. The unflappable Federer kept blunting Andy Roddick's best and flashing brilliant shots Sunday for a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory and his second straight Wimbledon title.

Roddick's 140 mph serves and surprising aggressiveness in the Wimbledon final didn't do the trick. Neither did two rain delays. And it didn't matter one bit that Federer couldn't consult a coach: He came up with a key strategy change all on his own.

After being labeled early on as someone unable to win the big ones, Federer is 3-0 in championship matches at majors. He's also won his last eight finals overall.

"I kind of like it - the 100 percent record in the finals of Grand Slams. These are the ones that really, really count," Federer said. "Grand Slam titles put you just a step higher."

He cemented his status as the game's best now, improving to 46-4 with a tour-leading six titles in 2004, including the Australian Open. Federer is the first man since Andre Agassi in 1999 to win two majors in a year.

If Federer, 22, and Roddick, 21, are a cut above the rest, it's clear who has the upper hand between the top duo: The Swiss star is 6-1 against the American.

"Roger just played too good today. I threw the kitchen sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got a tub," Roddick said. "I'm going to have to start winning some of them to call it a rivalry."

Roddick has been impressive in his own right the past two years, finishing 2003 at No. 1 after winning his first major at the U.S. Open. His serves are the fiercest around, and his forehands end points with a flick of the wrist.

Federer, who took over the top ranking in February, was just too steady in the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 Wimbledon men's final in 22 years. He extended his grass winning streak to 24, one more than Pete Sampras' longest.

"He definitely has an aura about him," Roddick said. "He's an unbelievable tennis player, and people know that."

Here's John McEnroe's take on Federer: "He does have a chance to be one of the greatest players that ever lived. He's got a chance to win a lot of major titles."

Federer's biggest asset is his versatility. He goes from defense to offense in a blink, can slug it out at the baseline (as he did early Sunday), and can go to the net (as he did late Sunday).

Appropriately, after two weeks of bad weather, Wimbledon ended with a stop-and-start final. The second rain delay came with Roddick up a break at 4-2 in the third set and completely changed the match's complexion. Until then, Roddick was doing just about everything right, taking charge of points, going to the net with success, and breaking serve four times - twice as many as Federer's previous six opponents combined.

Federer got a chance to think about what wasn't working. He decided to serve-and-volley more, then ran the idea by a friend and his fitness trainer.

A coach? Well, Federer fired Peter Lundgren in December and has been his own mentor since.

"Roger has learned self-discipline. This is a very important phase in his career as well, that he could step back, not rely on somebody, get to know himself, get to know his own tennis and technique," said his mother, Lynette. "And I've got a feeling that a period without a coach - I don't say it's ideal - but he has also taken a lot of initiative."

Sunday's switch worked: Federer won 24 of the next 28 points on his serve.

Also key: Federer eventually caught up to Roddick's serve. He broke to 4-4 by getting a 137 mph serve back, then forced Roddick to miss a forehand. Federer was masterful in the tiebreaker, hitting two aces and ending it with a forehand winner, then a backhand passing shot.

Roddick hung his head and tugged at the bill of his cap as he trudged to the changeover. It got worse in the fourth set when he squandered six break points.

Two came while up 3-2. On the first, Roddick smacked a forehand to the corner, his signature shot that almost always ends a point. Somehow, scrambling along a muddy baseline, Federer got to the ball, and Roddick sailed a forehand wide.

"Not only is he fast, but when he gets to the ball, he can have no play on it and make something out of it," Roddick said. "He's unparalleled as far as that skill goes."

Roddick wasted his final break point with an errant forehand. On the next point, Federer's backhand scraped the net and went over, throwing Roddick off. The rally continued, with both players hitting awkward shots before Federer ended it with a backhand.

Roddick put his palms up and looked around. Then, ever the showman, he walked up, grabbed the net with both hands and shook it, like someone cleaning a throw rug.

"If you were helping him get points," Roddick said later, "I'd shake you, too."

Perhaps he wanted to break the tension, but he appeared to break his concentration. Roddick lost that game on the next point, then made three unforced errors to get broken at love.

With that 4-3 edge, Federer just had to hold serve twice to win the title, and he did, ending the match with a 124 mph ace, giving him a 12-11 edge in that stat.

Afterward, the players took the traditional walks around Center Court with their trophies, waving at fans and posing for photographers. Their paths crossed, and Roddick took a playful swipe at Federer's Challenge Cup.

It was a tiny snapshot of the type of entertainment Roddick can provide. During the match, he clasped his hands and looked at the sky to give thanks after a net cord went his way. He barked at himself or clenched a fist or screamed, "Come on!"

If Roddick played for laughs on occasion, Federer played only for keeps.

He punctuated points with yells, too - in three languages: "Yeah!" or "Allez!" or "Nein!" - but it was always quick, as if he were embarrassed to be making a display.

Roger Federer is serious, all right.

"For me, winners stay, and losers go," he said. "I don't want to be one of them who goes."

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