LONDON — Roger Federer hailed his record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title as one of the greatest moments of his life after the Swiss star defeated Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to end his Grand Slam drought.
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Federer hadn’t won a major title since the 2010 Australian Open and last savoured the taste of Wimbledon success in 2009.
But the 30-year-old rolled back the years on Centre Court to clinch his 17th Grand Slam crown and complete his return to the top of the world rankings.
Many pundits questioned if Federer would ever recapture the form of his golden era as it appeared he had lost some of his hunger after becoming a father two years ago.
But this was the perfect response to those critics and Federer admitted it was a dream come true to equal his idol Pete Sampras’s Wimbledon title tally after such a frustrating period in his career.
“It equals me with Pete Sampras who is my hero so it’s amazing,” Federer said.
“As we know the world number one doesn’t get gifted to you but I never stopped believing.
“I started playing more even though I had a family. It all worked out and came together. It’s a magical moment. It’s a dream come true.”
Since beating Andy Roddick to win Wimbledon in 2009, Federer had suffered two successive shock defeats in the quarter-finals of his favourite Grand Slam.
With that in mind, Federer conceded it was a relief to be back in business at Wimbledon, especially given all the sacrifices he has made in a bid to get back to the top.
“It feels great to be back as winner, it feels so familiar. I’ve missed playing in finals here,” he said.
“I think I played some of my best tennis in the last couple of matches. Over the years at Wimbledon I have played best in semis and finals.
“It’s nice. It’s like it never left me. I’ve gone through some struggles and had a lot of changes in my life, so this one comes at the right time.”
Federer also paid tribute to Murray, who broke down in tears during an on-court interview immediately after the match.
Murray had hoped to become the the first British man to win Wimbledon for 76 years, but the world number four couldn’t avoid his fourth defeat in four Grand Slam finals, three of which have come against Federer.
“He has done so well over the years. He has been so consistent and he shows he cares so deeply about tennis and this tournament,” Federer said.
“He will win at least one grand slam. That’s what I hope for Andy.”
Murray rose to the occasion in the first two sets before fading as Federer turned up the heat with some sublime winners once the Centre Court roof was closed due to rain.
The Scot, the first British man to play in the Wimbledon final since 1938, was clearly overcome with emotion once his dreams had finally been shattered and he was in tears several times during the television interview.
With his mother Judy and girlfriend Kim Sears also sobbing in the players’ box, Murray said: “I’m going to try this (the interview) but it’s not going to be easy.
“I’m getting closer (to winning). I’d like to congratulate Roger. I was getting asked the other day after I won my semi-final, was this my best chance because Roger is 30 now?. Well, he’s not bad for a 30-year-old.
“He played a great tournament. He showed what fight he still has in him. So congratulations Roger you deserve it.”
Murray also paid tribute to the fans who had backed him right to the end of a gripping match.
“Everyone always talks about the pressure of playing at Wimbledon but it’s not because of the people watching. They make it so much easier to play. The support has been incredible so thank you,” he said.