Wimbledon 2017: Federer looks to future without tennis – but not yet

For reasons passing rhyme and understanding, within minutes of Roger Federer reaching yet another Wimbledon final, some were trying to get him to call it quits.

You wonder why anyone would want these days to end, for Federer to shuffle off to the commentary box, the legends circuit or the golf course.

Tomas Berdych – who has lost to Federer 19 times in 25 encounters – could be forgiven for wanting him to end it all. He had no chance in their semi-final and despite giving the
Swiss his toughest examination yet, still lost 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

The script that this year’s Wimbledon is Federer’s last hurrah is a good one – but surely, given his continued dominance, this cannot be it?

Federer, 35, reached his 11th Wimbledon final and Marin Cilic now stands between him and a record eighth title at the All England Club, moving him clear of fellow seven-time winner Pete Sampras.

“It makes me really happy, making history here at Wimbledon. It’s a big deal and I love this tournament,” said Federer.

“All my dreams came true here as a player and to have another chance to go for number eight now is a great feeling.

“I’m unbelievably excited and I hope I can play one more good match. Eleven finals here, all these records, it’s great, but it doesn’t give me the title again.

“That’s why I came here this year. I’m so close now, so I’ve just got to stay focused.”

Federer hasn’t won here since beating Andy Murray in 2012 – and it’s a winning feeling he can’t wait to experience again.

“It feels ages since my first title, with my ponytail and my beard,” he adds. “It doesn’t feel that 2012 was that long ago, I looked more or less the same!

“I feel I’m ready for it. I’ve played good matches here since my win in 2012. I played great in 2014 and 2015 but it wasn’t quite enough. I’m happy I’m up to that level again.”

However, the sun is slowly setting on the golden age of men’s tennis, Federer was the only surviving member of a so-called big four in the final four here – as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic all exited with injury concerns.

But if you wanted a glimpse into the future, hopefully you weren’t watching Cilic and Sam Querrey serve out a drab semi-final that lacked style, subtlety, élan and panache.

It took you back to the dark days of the 1990’s when big-serving, via the likes of Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Sampras, was a prerequisite for success here – and made you fear more for a future without Federer.

Aces might look good and big serves stack up points but, after a while, it all becomes a little dull.

Besides, tennis fans have always preferred great returners to great servers and none are better than Federer.

His decision to skip the clay court season to focus on Wimbledon has been inspired. His years advancing, he knows the battles to fight and the fights to skip.

Asked how long he would go on for, he added: “Health has definitely a role to play but I haven’t made any decisions moving forward.

“As I move forward, I’ll be very cautious of how much I will play, how much I think is healthy.

“Then, of course, it’s discussions I always have with my wife about the family. Is everybody happy on tour? Are we happy to pack up and go away for five, six, seven weeks?

“For the time being, it seems like absolutely no problem, which is wonderful.

“Success is also key to staying out there because I want to be competitive and this tournament certainly helps me to stay hopefully on tour longer.”

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