Federer wins fifth straight title



By Chris Lehourites

WIMBLEDON, England – Roger Federer hit an overhead smash to capture his fifth straight Wimbledon title. He then collapsed to his knees in jubilation and relief – just as Bjorn Borg used to do.

Federer played – and won – his first five-setter in a Grand Slam final, beating nemesis Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2 Sunday for his 11th major title.

Federer is the first man to win five straight titles at the All England Club since Borg did it from 1976-80. The Swede watched the match from the Royal Box with other past champions, and applauded as Federer fell to the ground after his smash on match point.

After Federer left the court, he and Borg exchanged hugs and smiles in front of the board that lists tournament champions. Federer’s name had already been added to the list for 2007.

“Thank you for coming out,” Federer told Borg.

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“Not at all. Sure,” Borg answered.

Federer stretched his record grass-court winning streak to 53 and his Wimbledon winning streak to 34. He is tied for third on the career list with Borg and Rod Laver at 11 major titles, trailing Pete Sampras’ 14 and Roy Emerson’s 12.

“Each one is special, no doubt,” Federer said. “To hold the trophy is always the best thing.”

Federer beat Nadal for only the fifth time in 13 meetings. The Spaniard has defeated Federer in the past two French Open finals to spoil his bid to complete a career Grand Slam.

“Today was a little bit disappointing because I had good chances,” said Nadal, who also lost to Federer in last year’s final. “Tomorrow I will be happy about my tournament and about my game.”

Federer saved four break points early in the fifth set, two at 1-1 and two at 2-2. Then, leading 3-2, Federer converted a break point with a forehand winner after a 14-stroke rally that produced some of the best shots of the match.

“If Rafael had won one of these, I think maybe now Rafael would be the champion,” said Nadal’s coach, Toni Nadal.

Nadal had been trying to emulate another of Borg’s feats by winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

After taking a 4-1 lead in the fourth set, the Spaniard called for a trainer to treat his right knee. Although he returned with tape below the knee cap, it didn’t seem to slow him.

Federer finished with 24 aces, 65 winners and 34 unforced errors. Nadal had 50 winners and 24 unforced errors.

In the first set, Federer converted his third break point in the second game, defensively returning a hard serve from Nadal and watching the Spaniard net a forehand.

In the tiebreaker, Federer jumped ahead 5-2 and thought he won the set on his third set point when leading 6-5, but Nadal challenged a call and “Hawk-Eye” showed his shot was in.

Federer won with a backhand volley after Nadal sent a backhand into the net at 7-7.

Nadal broke Federer at 5-4 to win the second set, converting his first set point with a backhand winner. The Spaniard then pulled within two points of doing the same in the third set, coming back from 40-love to deuce. But Federer used a pair of volleys to hold to 5-5.

Nadal was again two points from the set while leading 6-5, but after he put a forehand into the net, Federer served an ace and then finished it off with a service winner.

Federer was broken again to open the fourth set, and Nadal added another break to take a 3-0 lead.

“It was such a close match,” Federer said. “I told Rafa at the net he deserved it as well. I’m the lucky one today.”