Grand master

Roger Federer remains undefeated in championship matches.
Monday, July 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WIMBLEDON, England — Three championship matches, three victories: Roger Federer is a master of the Grand Slam final.

Federer, the top seed, overcame Andy Roddick’s power game Sunday to win his second straight Wimbledon title and cement his status as the game’s No. 1 player.

He withstood Roddick’s huge serves and forehand winners, winning 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 for his third Grand Slam title and 24th consecutive victory on grass.

Federer, who won the Australian Open in February, is the fourth man to go 3-0 in his first Slam finals since the Open era began in 1968. He is in good company, joining Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Stefan Edberg.

Those three greats all lost in their fourth major final. Federer, 22, will get a chance to make it 4-0 at the U.S. Open beginning in late August.

“I kind of like it, the 100 percent record in the finals of Grand Slams,” he said. “These are the ones that really, really count. Grand Slam titles put you just a step higher. To have won my favorite tournament already twice in my career is incredible.”

After a rain delay, Federer came from a break down at 2-4 in the third set and took charge by playing a brilliant third-set tiebreaker. He saved six break points in the fourth set, broke Roddick at love in the seventh game and finished the match with his 12th ace.

When his final 124 mph serve flew past Roddick, Federer dropped to his knees at the baseline and arched all the way onto his back. He got up and smacked a ball into the crowd. Roddick came around the net and the players hugged. Federer appeared to be in tears as he sat on his courtside chair.

After receiving the trophy from the Duke of Kent, Federer kissed it and raised it over his head to a huge ovation from the Centre Court crowd.

“Somehow I feel even more joy this year because I had so much pressure going into this tournament,” he said. “Now to see my name on the board, I kind of get more joy out of this.”

Roddick, the U.S. Open champion, gave Federer full credit.

“Roger just played too good today,” he said. “I threw the kitchen sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got a tub.”

Federer, who beat Roddick in the Wimbledon semifinals last year, is now 6-1 against his top rival.

“I’m going to have to start winning some of them to call it a rivalry,” Roddick said.

Federer, 22, is the first men’s champion to successfully defend his title since Pete Sampras won his seventh and final championship in 2000. His 24-match grass-court winning streak is the second-longest, behind the 41 consecutive matches won by five-time Wimbledon champ Bjorn Borg.

“He definitely has an aura about him, there’s no doubt,” Roddick said. “He’s an unbelievable tennis player. People know that.”

It was the first Wimbledon men’s final in 22 years between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded players, and it featured a contrast in styles between the cool, versatile Federer and the brash, power-hitting American.

“I proved that Roger is not quite invincible,” Roddick said. “He’s pretty close, but I proved a lot to myself today. I thought I took it to him. I played the game the way I wanted to play it. I just came up short. It was a couple of points here and there.”

The match was twice suspended by rain, the first time for 36 minutes with Federer leading 3-2 on serve in the first set. The second stoppage, which came with Roddick up a break at 4-2 in the third and lasted 40 minutes, changed the momentum for good in Federer’s favor.

After the break, the sun came out for the first time and Federer, who had been broken four times until then, won 24 of 28 points on his serve to go into the fourth set.

“I had to change some things,” Federer said. “I came to the net more, and this is when the sunshine came at the same time, so I’m happy I had just a great reaction.”

The match swung Federer’s way when he broke back for 4-4 in the third set, returning a 137 mph serve on break point and forcing Roddick to miss a forehand. Federer played at his best in the tiebreaker, getting two aces, a forehand crosscourt winner, a forehand volley and a backhand down-the-line passing shot. Roddick walked to the changeover with his head down.

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