Federer consoles Cilic after “cruel” Wimbledon final

“It is cruel sometimes,” Roger Federer said after trouncing Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to win his record 8th Wimbledon title and 19th grand slam.

He could have been boasting about his achievements or basking in adornment of celebratory fans. Instead, Federer used his victory speech to console Cilic. “But he (Cilic) fought well. He’s a hero. In a final it’s cruel but be proud of yourself. I hope we can play down the road some better ones.”

Cilic, who never retires from matches, did play heroically even in defeat. Cilic said he received treatment over 30 hours for a painful blister after the semi-finals, and it hampered his movement late in the first set. He said he cried out of frustration at 0-3 in the second set because he couldn’t play his best. “It was very difficult to deal with it,” Cilic told a press conference. “It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was the feeling that I couldn’t give the best. These things are part of the sport.”

Federer said he didn’t know what Cilic’s problems were during the match. “I thought he was maybe dizzy or something. Because I couldn’t tell what it was made it easier. So I said ‘focus on your game, focus on the match’.”

Federer’s one-sided victory over Cilic showed how championship tennis involves more than great technique and strategy. It’s also about how you perform as an entertainer, chess player and crisis manager, especially with injuries.

Crisis management might be most crucial. Losing impairs judgement, inflames your injuries and makes time go faster in a downward spiral. Losing can also make you fight for your life. Or it can break your spirit and cement your feet.

 

 

Cilic missed his chances to break Roger Federer’s serve early in the first set. He then got broken, lost the set 6-3, and lost the first three games of the second set. He sat in his chair, sobbing. A few games later, a trainer re-wrapped a blister on his left foot. Instead of quitting, he won another game, and then four in the final set against a player seemingly destined to win. 

Some observers such as Piers Morgan accused Cilic of choking. Leaders of the tennis community, including Darren Cahill and Mardy Fish, defended Cilic on social media.

Tennis players understand the degree of difficulty playing in a slam final after two weeks of grueling matches. Injuries, stage fright, or a bad patch can hamper anybody in a big match, and tears are common in sports. 

Even Venus Williams couldn’t manage her emotions or form after losing two set points versus Garbine Muguruza. She collapsed, lost nine straight games and the match 7-5, 6-0.

Genie Bouchard, who seems to revel in fame, was probably unprepared for the pressure of her first Wimbledon final and her opening round match in Montreal a month later. She’s never regained the confidence of early 2014.

Milos Raonic said he went into a shell, didn’t express himself enough in his 2016 final loss to Andy Murray.

Rafael Nadal, known as one of the most courageous athletes ever, wrote about his battles with nerves. Stan Wawrinka cried in the locker room before righting the ship and winning the US Open 2016 over Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray has temper tantrums in almost every match.

Even Federer said he was nervous before playing Dusan Lajovic at Wimbledon, because he never played him before.

Federer has perhaps cried before, during or after a match as well. That’s why he felt sorry for Cilic. Federer also remembers what happened to Andy Murray. He lost the 2012 final, sobbing on Centre Court and vowing to return. He did just that, and won the Olympic final and then Wimbledon the next year.

Like Murray, Cilic will probably find strength in this defeat. It was Roger’s destiny to win Wimbledon this year. Next year could be time for Cilic. 

(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)

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