One Grand Match
Published 12:41 am Monday, July 6, 2009
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Roger Federer was playing for history. Andy Roddick was playing the match of his life.
On and on they dueled, Federer trying for a record-breaking 15th major championship, Roddick striving for his second, in a Wimbledon final that required more games than any Grand Slam title match in the considerable annals of a sport dating to the 1800s.
‘‘Ten games all, final set,’’ intoned the chair umpire. Then, ‘‘Twelve games all, final set.’’ And, still later, ‘‘Fourteen games all, final set.’’
They were each other’s equal for four full sets and nearly the entire 30-game fifth set. Until Federer, far more experienced in such matters, finally edged ahead, breaking Roddick’s serve for the only time in the 77th and last game to close out a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 victory Sunday.
The epic match — the fifth set alone lasted more than 1 1/2 hours — gave Federer his sixth Wimbledon title. Add that to five from the U.S. Open, three from the Australian Open and one from the French Open, and Federer’s Grand Slam total rises to 15, one more than Pete Sampras, who flew in from California on Sunday morning to be on hand.
‘‘He’s a legend,’’ Sampras said. ‘‘Now he’s an icon.’’
Indeed, Sampras already was among those labeling Federer the greatest tennis player ever, and there’s no doubt the 27-year-old from Switzerland keeps bolstering his case.
‘‘It’s not really one of those goals you set as a little boy,’’ Federer told the Centre Court crowd during the trophy ceremony, ‘‘but, man, it’s been quite a career. And quite a month.’’
Federer won the French Open four Sundays earlier to complete a career Grand Slam and tie Sampras with 14 major titles (Margaret Smith Court owns the women’s record of 24).
‘‘Sorry, Pete,’’ Roddick said. ‘‘I tried to hold him off.’’
He weathered Federer’s career-high 50 aces and his 107 total winners in the longest match and longest fifth set in major final history, topping marks set in 1927.