WIMBLEDON 2009 MEN’S SINGLES FINAL: ONE FOR THE AGES
Regarded as one of the best Grand Slam finals till date, the Wimbledon 2009 Men’s Singles final was one for the ages. Filled with intensity, talent, emotions and with huge amount of skill on display, the match didn’t disappoint one bit. With legends of the game Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg in attendance at the centre court, a lot was at stake for the two finalists.
Roger Federer, known for his perfect serving ability and serve-volley game, came into the championship looking to win his 15th Grand Slam title and overtake Sampras’ record of 14. On the other hand, Andy Roddick, who was known for his quick hammer or kick serves and baseline-based game, was looking to end his Grand Slam finals jinx against Roger Federer. Previously, Roddick had lost 3 Grand Slam finals to Federer; at Wimbledon 2004, Wimbledon 2005 and US Open 2006.
Federer lost the previous year’s final to Rafael Nadal and came into the tournament as 2nd seed behind Nadal, Roddick being 6th. With both the players prepared to give their all in the final, the fans and spectators were in for a treat.
Roddick started the match with full intensity and fast serving as he was looking to dismantle Federer from the word go. Both the players were sticking to their strengths, with Roddick playing the baseline game and Federer looking to serve and volley. After some fine rallies and intense serving sprees from both players, the set got poised at 5-5. Fighting for the lead, Federer had 4 break points, but wasn’t able to capitalize on either. This gave Roddick the chance to come back, and he took his chance. Now leading at 6-5, Roddick was all in and forced Federer into unforced errors, eventually breaking Federer’s serve to take the first set 7-5.
Roddick started the second set with a similar intensity. To take a two-set lead, Roddick pummelled his rocket like serves down Federer’s body who, despite showing signs of frustration, hung on. With both the players showing their attacking prowess and winning their respective serves, the match entered into its first tiebreak. Roddick played some ferocious shots and led 5-1 and 6-2 in the tiebreak, but Federer wasn’t one to be tamed down easily. Federer came up big with 2 aces and Roddick lost 4 set points to even the tiebreak at 6-6. Federer eventually won the tiebreak 8-6 and the set 78-66.
Now with the match evenly balanced at 1-1, Federer started the third set with a blistering ace and made his intentions very clear. The aces were coming in handy as Federer was cruising in his service games, while Roddick was being made to work hard to hold his serves. Again, after a masterclass of skilful serves and rallies, the third set headed into a tiebreak as well. Federer was leading the tiebreak 5-1, until Roddick came back to make the score 6-5, still in Federer’s favour. The Swiss maestro attacked the net and took the point to take home the third set 77-65 to lead the match 2 sets to 1.
With Roddick having all to play for in the fourth set, the American started in scintillating fashion. While being 2-1 up, the one-time US Open champion showcased his A-game and broke Federer’s serve, leading the set 3-1. After that the American wasted no time and won the set comfortably, 6-3.
Now with the match being 2 sets all and the rallies getting feistier, the fans were in for a treat. Federer had a break point in the second game of the set but wasn’t able to capitalize on it. After a few games of pure class, Federer was up 5-4, looking to break Roddick’s serve and win the championship. But Roddick wasn’t backing down from a fight, winning the game 40-0 and setting up a grandstand finish. Both the players kept winning their respective service games until at 8-8, when Roddick got 2 break points on Federer; Roddick once again failed to convert. Roddick’s temper flared when an incorrect fault call was overturned following Federer’s challenge, and it cost Andy the game.
Both competitors were tired, but were still serving furiously, bringing the all decisive set to 15-14 with Roddick serving to save the match. Federer went up 0-30 in no time but Roddick showed the fight in him and bounced back to 40-30. Federer nipped a deuce and both players chipped back and forth with a couple of more deuces. And then the moment finally arrived. When Federer had the advantage and the Championship point, Roddick skyrocketed a return. And there it was- Grand Slam number 15 for Roger Federer and another heartbreak for Andy Roddick.
Winner takes all
The match went on for 4 hours 17 minutes, where Federer finished the match with 50 aces compared to Roddick’s 27. Andy Roddick till date holds the record for the greatest number of games won in a Grand Slam final, 39, and still ended up losing the championship. Also, the last game was the first and only time that Roddick’s serve was broken throughout the entire match. And that game just happened to be the most crucial service game of his career. The match held the record of being the longest Wimbledon final at that time, and was certainly one of the most scintillating matches anyone had seen. One which the fans and the tennis fraternity will never forget.