Roger Federer fought off a tremendous challenge from Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon men's final on Sunday, winning a marathon five-set match for a record 15th Grand Slam championship.
The Swiss star fired a whopping 50 aces to win by scores of 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. He broke Roddick for the first time in the match in the very last game, with Roddick mis-hitting three forehands, including on match point.
It was the longest fifth set ever in a Grand Slam final.
"It was a crazy match, it was an unbelievable end and my head's still spinning," Federer said from Centre Court. "It's an unbelievable moment in my career."
Federer won the Wimbledon title for the sixth time in seven years, but very nearly trailed 2-0 in sets. Roddick had a 6-2 lead in the second set tiebreak, but Federer rallied to get back on even terms.
With the victory, Federer moves ahead of Pete Sampras on the all-time Grand Slam list. Sampras was at the All England Club for the nearly 4½-hour match.
Roddick is now 1-4 in Grand Slam finals, with all of the losses coming against Federer. He lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final in 2004 and 2005.
"Sorry Pete, I tried to hold him off," Roddick said from Centre Court. "It was a pleasure playing here in front of great champions like Pete, Manolo [Santana], Rod [Laver] and Bjorn [Borg]. I still hope that one day my name will be up there with theirs as a winner of this tournament."
A day after the match, Roddick withdrew from the U.S. Davis Cup team's quarter-final at Croatia, citing a right hip flexor injury.
3 of last 4 Grand Slams
Federer won five consecutive Wimbledon titles before losing last year in an epic five-set match to Rafael Nadal, who could not compete at this year's tournament due to a knee injury.
Nadal also took over the No. 1 ranking, leading some observers to believe the torch had been passed. But Federer has now won three of the last four Grand Slams, including the previously elusive French Open title.
Federer joins Borg and Nadal as the only men in the last 40 years to win the French and Wimbledon in the same year, and also takes over the No. 1 ranking again as a result of the win.
"Man, it's been quite a career and quite a month," Federer said. "It feels amazing, but this is not why I'm playing tennis — to break all sorts of different records. But it's definitely one of the greatest ones to have."
In the 11th game of the first set, Federer had four break point chances, but Roddick held serve. Roddick was able to convert on his first set point chance, with Federer hitting his shot long.
In the second set, Roddick drilled a 215 km/h ace to take a 5-4 lead. One of the best points of the match occurred in the next game, a 23-shot affair that ended when Roddick's drop shot was countered by a Federer cross-court volley.
Federer forced a tiebreaker with an easy service game, but Roddick gained an immediate edge with a mini-break. Federer again came up on the wrong side of a video review, with a Roddick shot clipping the line for a 4-1 advantage.
'Tennis is crazy. It's great that there's an end to it, because this could have gone on for a few more hours, I think.'—Roger Federer
Federer clawed back, fighting off four set points. Roddick aided him by missing a makeable backhand volley at the net for a 6-6 score.
The Swiss star then fooled Roddick near the net with a backhand shot, with the American hitting long to give Federer the second set.
The players held serve with relative ease until the sixth game, in which Roddick fought off a break point with a service winner en route to making it 3-3.
Federer was precise with his serve in the third set, losing just two points through his first five service games. He used a crosscourt forehand to take a 5-4 lead.
Trailing 6-5, Roddick fell behind 15-30, but used a booming serve and hard forehand to force another tiebreak.
Federer sliced just over the net to gain a mini-break for a 2-1 and stepped up his game to take the next three points. Roddick clawed back to trail just 6-5, but Federer closed out the set by moving his opponent wide on a serve to set up a forehand winner.
Roddick began making incursions on Federer's serve early in the fourth. He managed to get to 30-30 in the second game, and had converted his second break point of the match with a backhand shot to go up 3-1.
The American took a spill in the eighth game and fell behind love-30, but staved off Federer en route to taking the set.
Serving up power
Federer sent Roddick sprawling with the score 1-1 to get a long-awaited break point, but could not convert.
With the score 3-3, Federer surrendered the first point but finished the game with two powerful serves, giving him 33 aces in the match at that point.
He fired three more to go up 5-4, but if Roddick felt any pressure having to win on his serve or lose the match, he didn't show it. Roddick won the game at love.
At 8-8, Roddick had a pair of break points after hitting a sensational backhand down the line, but Federer placed two first serves well for points, with the American then making a pair of errors to help Federer escape.
Roddick squandered a 40-15 lead in the 22nd game of the set with consecutive errors, but utilized an ace to get out of the jam.
Evening shadows began creeping onto the court, leading to a whiff from the American with the score 14-13 Federer.
Roddick then fell back love-30 in the 30th game with some miscues. He appeared to recover, drawing back even, but sprayed the final point of the match high.
"Tennis is crazy," said Federer. "It's great that there's an end to it, because this could have gone on for a few more hours, I think."