It was yet another epic Wimbledon final and Andy Roddick was closer than ever to victory.
He started of by serving great and apart from little dips in first serve percentage here and there he managed to do so throughout.
And even when his first serve percentage at times dropped he still survived and despite putting him to the test numerous times Federer just was not able to break.
Just tremendous credit to Roddick for holding his own.
But of course he did much more than that. In the first set he hardly made any errors. Something highly unusual against Federer but it was in some ways similar to what he did so well in his win over Murray.
He was just moving better and was in great position for his shots the majority of the time.
Again something he has really struggled with in the past against Federer.
This was something that made even his backhand a very effective shot in this match, despite Federer, like Murray in the last round, again and again putting it to the test.
I've seen and heard some commentators at least flirting with criticizing Federer for playing too defensive. Not taking enough chances.
Suggesting that was the deciding factor in making the match as close as it was.
I think that's too easy.
Federer over a 20 match sample size was 18-2 against Roddick.
Why would he change a gameplan that's enabled him to dominate this opponent, a world class opponent, to such an overwhelming extent?
Again and again in their meetings Federer has blocked the Roddick serve and then patiently moved him around the court "waiting" for either an opening to hit a high percentage winner of his own (he still hit many more than any non aggressive player would) or Roddick not being able to hang with him so to speak, sooner or later commiting the error.
Roddick (and Stefanki) deserves all the credit in the world for with better movement preventing those openings and making fewer errors.
With another almost absurd high first serve percentage, if I remember correctly consistently +75 percent in the first two sets, and that newly found very solid all-court game, Roddick edged out the first set and incredibly then found himself in excellent position in the second set tiebreak to go up two sets to love!
He was leading 6-2!
This wasn't just Ivanisevic with a couple of set points to go up two sets to love against Sampras in 1998, it was four mini matchpoints against the best player ever, who pretty much every single time they'd played had owned his very soul!
Safe to say I think, a real once in a lifetime opportunity, and what of course happened?
He blew it!
Too harsh? I'm not sure.
This is what happend and I've included a video so judge for yourself:
Federer started by hitting one of his trademark improbable right off the bounce impossibly angled backhand winners.
And in retrospect I think that was the first body blow, because I'm sure, even if just for one short second in that rally, Roddick could actually taste victory, only to have it instantly taken away from him with the kind of play that in the past again and again had left him totally defenseless.
Doubts MUST have crept in there.
Predictably Federer followed that up with two effective serves and suddenly it was 6-5 and suddenly the pressure was intense. As well as probably even more doubts creeping in!
Next his attempt at a first serve was almost as close to the backline as it was being being in...
Federer's second serve return was short, Roddick then makes a great decision running around and hitting an excellent approach forehand deep into Federer territory.
He is at the net plenty in time to deal with whatever Fed can come up with.
There is not much angle for an effective passing shot, so Federer just hits it really hard.
It's a bit high. Maybe mistimed?
But definitely a makeable backhand volley for Roddick. If not for a winner. Then certainly something in! But he completely fails to control it and it sails out...
6-6 and as if there were ever any doubt whatsoever Federer grabs momentum, quickly closes things out and wins it 8-6.
The video is decent/not great quality but there are such highlights as Becker's OMG at around 7.37 as well as a little later, not for the last time in this match when cameras were zooming in, money exchanging hands between Borg and Nastase up there in the royal box. Degenerates clearly!
Huge credit to Federer for never giving in, he wouldn't the whole match, and credit for Nastase for betting Federer would still go on to win the set!
But again probably most credit once again to Roddick for taking this huge blow square faced on the chin and refusing to get knocked out like most would after seeing an astronomical chance like that go down the drain.
That really set the tone for all the epicness that would follow and thank you very much Andy Roddick for that!
I also hope as I'm writing this that unlike Ivanisevic following 1998 he isn't on suicide watch.
I know I would be, but with Roddick's personality and of course wife Brooklyn Decker
I wouldn't be suprised if he sooner than most people is back to enjoying life!
I'm also calling it, right here right now, that he in fact will do "a Ivanisevic" and come back and win Wimbledon, very unexpected, probably from a low rank, maybe even as a wild card, say in... THREE YEARS!
You heard it here first.
The rest of the match basically was a huge battle.
Federer served well enough, with Roddick's returns still being below average enough, to win the majority of his service games comfortably.
As well as serving up an impressive 50 aces along the way to Roddick's only 27.
But Roddick played well enough. Served a high percentage enough. Very needed because despite popular opinion, Federer WAS more effective on the Roddick serve than Roddick was on his.
To just keep hanging on and time again time again come up with the goods when most needed.
Federer just could not break him while Roddick, the one time really where Federer's own first serve percentage dropped, took advantage, broke his serve and held on to take the fourth.
The fifth needless to say was just an epic battle.
It's hard to say this was a better final than last year where overall quality was absurd but this on the other hand was a classic old school grass court battle in many ways boiling down to serving and returning.
The kind that's more rare these days and to have it in a final and to have it reach this level... On Wimbledon it just doesn't get any better than that.
In the end of course it was Federer who came out on top.
Whether it was Roddick finally tiring. His movement was off in that final game, not getting in the usual great position for his shots.
Or to what extent it was whatever added pressure of having to serve not to lose time and time again, or if it simply was the, for a while somewhat inevitable, catching up to him, of Federer simply winning his service games very comfotably in the fifth, putting on a superb serving clinic, while Roddick moreso really had to dig deep in order to survive.
And at an unbelievable 15-14 in the fifth there would be no more surviving and the greatest animal of them all would win his 15th grand slam title
breaking Pete Sampras grandslam record.
Sampras like he had promised Federer was indeed present, for the first time actually at Wimbledon since his playing days.
Unfortunately for whatever reason it wasn't him presenting the trophy.
Maybe at Wimbledon it just HAS to be the Duke or something...
I'm sure had it been at the US Open it would indeed have been Sampras handing it directly to Federer, and that really would have been a great moment, but at least, he was there, which was in itself great and also resulted in nice photos such as this one, of probably the four greatest tennis players ever together:
That's also a pretty nice finish on this blog to this years verson of Wimbledon which I think was absolutely great.
Not sure exactly when again there will be tennis on here?
I don't really follow the ATP tour that closely anymore but I'm definitely looking forward to the US Open already, and I can't rule out watching, and maybe blogging about, some of the Master tournaments that takes places before that.