This weekend saw me glued to the television for the gripping final of the men’s Wimbledon tennis tournament. I may have missed the opportunity for a British spectator hat trick by not following the Royal Ascot horse race (I see some of the ridiculous hats in the gossip section of the papers, however!), almost hitting up all of the top three British sporting events after my glimpse of Henley last week but without question, the Wimbledon final stole the show.
As I mentioned, to say I’d followed the tournament closely would have been an understatement. Wimbledon radio was my permanent soundtrack during work and when I got home the television would be on before the door had shut behind me (although that could have more to do with the size of our flat than my enthusiasm for the game. It’s a tough call there). While I was relatively fickle in my loyalties during the preliminary matches – Hewitt, Roddick, Murray on occasion all receiving my support – there was no question in my mind that Federer would take the top spot, a richly deserved honour after last year’s painful defeat. Plus I didn’t really want to see him cry again.
So it wasn’t with much fear for Federer’s title that I followed the Twitter updates from Alex, who had scored seats to the historic final event, prepared my strawberries and Pimms and got comfortable on the couch for what I imagined would be a clean win for Roger.
It was with surprise but some excitement as well that I watch Roddick break first in the game, taking an early lead and the first set. No nerves yet, just the promise of a more evenly matched set than I had anticipated. The second set confirmed Federer’s strengths as he saved four set points in a tie break to come back and pull the set from the jaws of defeat.
Of course it was the fifth set, after a nail-bitting display bringing the men to two sets all, that brought every tennis fan across the world to the edge of their seat. Federer hadn’t yet broken Roddick’s serve, while Andy had broken Roger twice. The each seemed to be waiting for the other to break down, but they waited in vain as the set, which due to Wimbledon official rules can’t end in a tie break to decide the match, stretched on longer and longer. It was the thirtieth (that’s 30th) game of the set where suddenly the tide turned in Roger’s favour as Andy netted serves and lost points he had been winning earlier in the game.
With a final error from Roddick, the more than four hour game finally came to an end with Federer crowned the champion. The tennis greats were there to see him, the now world-record holder for most grand slams won, take that historic title.
I’m definitely sad Wimbledon has ended, it was a fantastic two weeks. Again I didn’t make it to the tennis grounds, and in fact have yet to visit the courts at all, but hope that some day I’ll be in the centre court crowd and when I am, I hope the match is just half as stunning as the final between Federer and Roddick on 5 July, 2009.