Federer in Wimbledon seventh heaven

06:21, Jul 10 2012
Wills and Kate
ROYAL APPROVAL: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, applaud in the Royal Box on Centre Court.
Wills and Kate
COURTING ROYALTY: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge looks on from the Royal Box on Centre Court during day nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Wills and Kate
SOMEWHAT WEARY: Kate looking a little tired during day nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.
Wills and Kate
APPROVING: Kate applauds during one of the sets at Wimbledon.
Wills and Kate
CENTRE AND COURTING: Kate and Prince William share a moment.
Wills and Kate
STANDING OVATION: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and husband Prince William.
Wills and Kate
THE MANY FACES OF KATE: Some of the reactions of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, at Wimbledon.
Wills and Kate
BIG ENTRANCE: Prince William and Kate arrive at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer left the door tantalisingly ajar for local hero Andy Murray in the Wimbledon men's singles final, then slammed it shut to win a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title and in so doing return to the top of the world rankings.

The Swiss great, contesting his eighth final at the All England Club, flirted with danger in the second set after losing the first but just when Murray looked like ending 76 years of plucky British failure Federer gave a stunning reminder of his genius to win 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 on Centre Court.

When a Murray forehand looped narrowly wide after three hours 24 minutes of enthralling action, Federer dropped to the turf in joy, just as he did in 2003 when he beat Australia's Mark Philippoussis to begin a grand slam collection that now stands at 17.

Wimbledon 2012
Tents are put up as tennis fans camp over night during previews for the Wimbledon Championships.
Wimbledon 2012
Rafael Nadal of Spain serves in a practice session.
Wimbledon 2012
Andy Murray of Great Britain in a practice session.
Wimbledon 2012
Petra Kvitova talks to the media during a pre-tournament press conference at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2012
Novak Djokovic talks to the media during a pre-tournament press conference at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2012
Petra Kvitova arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Elena Vesnina arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Li Na arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Caroline Wozniacki arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Maria Sharapova arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Ana Ivanovic arrives at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Venus Williams (L) and Serena Williams (R) arrive at the WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party at The Roof Gardens.
Wimbledon 2012
Roger Federer of Switzerland bounces a football at the practice courts at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2012
Heather Watson of Britain hits a return to Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic during their women's singles tennis match.
Wimbledon 2012
Ernests Gulbis of Latvia celebrates after defeating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in their men's singles tennis match.
Wimbledon 2012
Kim Clijsters of Belgium celebrates winning her women's singles tennis match against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
Wimbledon 2012
Ernests Gulbis of Latvia hits a return to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during their men's singles tennis match.
Wimbledon 2012
A general view of Court 2.
Wimbledon 2012
Naomi Broady of Great Britain hits a forehand return during her women's singles first round match against Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.
Wimbledon 2012
Venus Williams of the US hits a return to Elena Vesnina of Russia during their women's singles tennis match.
Wimbledon 2012
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return to Albert Ramos of Spain during their men's singles tennis match.
Wimbledon 2012
Matosevic of Australia serves the ball during his men's singles first round match against Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
Wimbledon 2012
Anne Keothavong of Great Britain returns a shot her Ladies Singles first round match against Laura Pous-Tio of Spain.
Wimbledon 2012
Ashleigh Barty of Australia serves during her Ladies Singles first round match against Roberta Vinci of Italy.
Wimbledon 2012
Andy Roddick of the USA reacts to a play during his Gentlemens Singles first round match against Jamie Baker of Great Britain.
Wimbledon 2012
Urszula Radwanska of Poland in action during her ladies singles first round loss to New Zealand's Marina Erakovic.
Wimbledon 2012
Jamie Baker returns a shot returns a shot during his Gentlemens Singles first round match against Andy Roddick of the USA.
Wimbledon 2012
Robin Haase of the The Netherlands in action during his Gentlemens Singles first round match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.
Wimbledon 2012
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Ryan Harrison of the US.
Wimbledon 2012
Sorana Cirstea of Romania celebrates after defeating Li Na of China.
Wimbledon 2012
Maria Sharapovaof Russia serves to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.
Wimbledon 2012
Sorana Cirstea of Romania celebrates after defeating Li Na of China.
Wimbledon 2012
Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic reaches to hit a return to Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
Wimbledon 2012
Tamira Paszek of Austria celebrates after winning the second set in her womens singles tennis match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Wimbledon 2012
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return to Fabio Fognini of Italy.
Wimbledon 2012
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall sit on Centre Court.
Wimbledon
Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic unleashes a serve during his second round win over Rafa Nadal.
Wimbledon
Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic celebrates his win over Rafael Nadal in the second round.
Wimbledon
A security guard stands on Centre Court as the roof is closed.
Wimbledon
A ballboy crouches near the net on Court One.
Novak Djokovic
Novac Djokovic hits a return to Radek Stepanek in a third round match at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer serves to Julien Benneteau of France during his third round match at Wimbledon.
Janko Tipsarevic
Serbian tennis player Janko Tipsarevic hits a return to Mikhail Youzhny during their third round match at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer returns the ball during his fourth round match against Xavier Malisse.
Roger Federer
Sabine Lisicki of Germany celebrates after her fourth round match against Maria Sharapova of Russia.
Roger Federer
Serena Williams hits a backhand return during her fourth round match against Yaroslava Shvedova.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer of Switzerland recieves medical attention during his fourth round match against Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
Roger Federer
Viktor Troicki of Serbia slips during his men's singles tennis match against Novak Djokovic.
Roger Federer
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus hands to a ball boy feathers that she picked up from the court during her match against Ana Ivanovic.
Wimbledon
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France checks on a line judge hit by the ball from a serve by Mardy Fish.
Wimbledon
Spectators shield themselves from the rain showers on day seven of Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2012
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland lines up a shot during her Ladies' Singles quarterfinal match against Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
Wimbledon 2012
Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France in action during their Gentlemen's Doubles third round match against Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of the USA.
Wimbledon 2012
A general view of umpires on day eight.
Wimbledon 2012
Sabine Lisicki of Germany returns a shot during her Ladies' Singles quarterfinal match against Angelique Kerber of Germany
Wimbledon 2012
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France celebrates after winning his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Mardy Fish of the USA.
Wimbledon 2012
Serena Williams of the USA celebrates after winning her Ladies' Singles quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic.
Wimbledon 2012
Mardy Fish of the USA reaches for a shot during his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Wimbledon 2012
A general view of atmosphere on day eight.
Wimbledon 2012
David Ferrer of Spain in action during his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.
Wimbledon 2012
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates winning his Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Wimbledon 2012
Ipek Soylu of Turkey in action during her Girls' Singles first round match against Maria Ines Deheza of Bolivia.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray waits during a change in ends during his quarterfinal against David Ferrer.
Prince William
Prince William (right) shakes hands with former Wimbledon winner Rod Laver as he exits the arena.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray gets airborne as he serves during his victory over David Ferrer.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
An ecstatic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France leaps in the air after his win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Philipp Kohlschreiber
Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber regroups after his defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Serena and Venus Williams
Venus and Serena Williams (foreground) walk off court after their doubles victory against Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.
Wimbledon 2012
Briton Andy Murray (R) shows no sign of the weight of expectation on him as he shares a joke with coach Ivan Lendl at a practice session.
Wimbledon 2012
Agnieszka Radwanska wins match point against Angelique Kerber to qualify for the Wimbledon final.
Wimbledon 2012
Agnieszka Radwanska (R) consoles beaten opponent Angelique Kerber following their Wimbledon semi-final.
Wimbledon 2012
Serena Williams reacts after beating Victoria Azarenka to qualify for her seventh Wimbledon final.
Wimbledon 2012
Serena Williams in happy spirits during her semi-final defeat of Victoria Azarenka.
Wimbledon 2012
Serena Williams in happy spirits during her semi-final defeat of Victoria Azarenka.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer celebrates his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic returns serve during his semi-final against Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic congratulates Roger Federer after their semi-final.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray slips during his semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray celebrates reaching the Wimbledon final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga serves to Andy Murray during their semi-final.
Williams sisters
Serena and Venus Williams celebrate a point during their doubles semi-final win.
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska stretches for the ball during the women's final.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams is all smiles after winning her fifth Wimbledon title.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams collapses on the grass after beating Agnieszka Radwanska in the women's final.
Serena Williams Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska walk onto centre court for the women's final.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams slips on her way to net.
Serena and Venus Williams
Serena and Venus Williams celebrate after winning the Wimbledon doubles final.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Roger Federer salutes the Wimbledon crowd after being presented with his trophy.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Roger Federer kisses the Wimbledon trophy for the seventh time after beating Andy Murray in the men's final in London.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Champion Roger Federer (L) poses with beaten finalist Andy Murray after their singles battle on centre court.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Residents of Scottish town Dunblane, the home of Andy Murray, get excited during the Wimbledon men's singles final.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Roger Federer collapses on centre court after winning match point against Andy Murray.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Andy Murray disputes a point during his Wimbledon final loss to Roger Federer.
Wimbledon 2012 final
Roger Federer steps up to receive the Wimbledon trophy as beaten opponent Andy Murray walks away.

For the second time in three grand slam finals against Murray he reduced the Scot to tears, although this match, unlike the others, was a contest to savour.

It was only after Centre Court's translucent lid was slid across after heavy rain began to fall in the heart of the final that Federer took charge, striding to the win that puts him level with Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon crowns.

At 30 years and 335 days he also became the oldest men's champion since Arthur Ashe in 1975 and, to put the icing on the cake, Monday's ATP rankings will show him back at No. 1 for the first time in two years and he will equal Sampras's record of 286 weeks at the summit.

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Roger Federer
THE GREATEST?: Roger Federer salutes the crowd after winning his seventh Wimbledon singles crown.

"I played some of my best tennis in the last couple of matches," Federer said after raising the trophy with his wife Mirka and giggling twin daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose watching on from the players' box.

"I've missed playing in the finals, and it feels like a great moment. I've gone through some struggles, so this one comes at the right time," added Federer, whose last grand slam title was at the 2010 Australian Open.

For Murray, his girlfriend Kim Sears and many of the thousands watching the huge screen on Henman Hill under a forest of multi-coloured umbrellas, there was just despair.

"I'm getting closer," Murray, whose valiant effort was watched by Royal Box guests Prime Minister David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William's wife Kate Middleton, choked as applause rang out.

"I was told after my semi-final that this was my best chance, Roger's 30 now, but he's not bad for a 30-year-old, he played a great tournament. Congratulations, you deserve it."

While Federer basked in the glow of another major title, Murray was left to contemplate equalling coach Ivan Lendl's unwanted record of losing his first four grand slam finals.

ENCOURAGING WORDS

A gracious Federer had words of encouragement.

"I think he's giving himself so many looks at big titles. I really do believe deep down in me he will win grand slams, not just one," Federer told reporters.

By defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, Murray had become the first British man to reach the final since Bunny Austin in 1938 and as the players set foot on a sunlit Centre Court, there was an electric buzz of anticipation that he would emulate the 1936 title of Fred Perry.

Having failed to win a set in two Australian Open finals and one U.S. Open one, Murray would have been excused early match nerves but he came out firing to break Federer in the opening game of the match.

Federer quickly restored parity and wasted break points when leading 4-3 as Murray's first serve misfired.

The Swiss was made to pay in the following game, sloppily dropping serve and Murray closed out the opening set with ease to a deafening roar from the 15,000 crowd.

Murray was the more threatening player in the second and upped the ante at 4-4 only to squander two break points that would have given him the chance to serve for a two-set lead and leave Federer facing a daunting task.

"The second set I had some chances and didn't quite get them," Murray said. "Often what happens is matches change over a couple of points here and there."

That was the case as Federer seized his chance. A tiebreak loomed but, out of nowhere, Federer conjured a set point with an exquisite drop shot and grabbed it with another stunning volley after a mesmerising rally.

The crowd sighed and then the rain began to fall, a prelude to the British tears that were to flow later.

After a 40-minute break while the roof was rolled into position, the players returned, only this time Federer looked a different player - dominating rallies with a dazzling mixture of power, spin and clever angles.

Had Murray survived a marathon service game at 2-3 in the third, things may have been different, but when Federer struck on his sixth break point it proved to be the beginning of the end for the fourth seed who took several tumbles.

Federer hammered another nail in the coffin with a backhand winner to break midway through the fourth set and despite chants of "Murray...Murray" echoing around the court, kept his cool to close out the match on his second match point.

"It was crazy how it all happened under the circumstances," said Federer, of the first Wimbledon singles final to be partly played under the roof. "I'm happy that closing the roof maybe helped me today."

The roof stayed closed as Americans Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond won the mixed doubles title with a 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over the Indian/Russian duo of Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina.

ROGER FEDERER FACTBOX:

MAKING HIS NAME

* Born Aug. 8, 1981 in Basel, Switzerland.

* Bursts on to the scene in 2001 when he ends Pete Sampras's 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round before losing in the quarter-finals.

RECORD 17 GRAND SLAM TITLES Wimbledon, 2003-2007, 2009, 2012; U.S. Open 2004-2008; Australian Open 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010; French Open 2009.

* In 2003, becomes the first Swiss man to win a grand slam after beating Mark Philippoussis in the Wimbledon final.

* Is the only man to win five consecutive titles at two different grand slams - Wimbledon and U.S. Open.

* Is the first man to win Wimbledon-U.S. Open double four years in a row.

* Is the only man in the professional era to win three consecutive majors twice in his career when he captured the 2007 Australian Open title.

* Equalled Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles in 2007.

* His run of reaching 10 consecutive grand slam finals is snapped by Novak Djokovic in the 2008 Australian Open semi-finals.

* The 2008 five-set epic at Wimbledon is regarded by many as the best ever tennis match. He lost the match to Rafael Nadal.

* His 2009 French Open crown made him the sixth man - after Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi - to have won all four grand slam titles during his career. Nadal has since become the seventh to achieve the feat.

* Breaks American Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles with his 15th win in the 2009 Wimbledon final to reclaim the world number one spot from Nadal.

* In 2009, becomes the first man to reach seven successive Wimbledon finals since the abolition of the Challenge Round in 1922. Reaches a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon final in 2012, extending his overall major final appearance record to 24.

* His record run of reaching 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals is snapped by Robin Soderling in the last eight of the 2010 French Open. That record is widely considered as one of the most astonishing in sport as it means Federer finished in the top four at a major for almost six successive years. His streak is more than double the previous record held by Ivan Lendl, who reached 10 consecutive major semis.

OTHER CAREER MILESTONES

* Becomes the 23rd man to top the ATP rankings in 2004, and keeps the ranking for a record 237 consecutive weeks. By winning his seventh Wimbledon title, he also matches Sampras's record of spending 286 weeks as world number one.

* Holds a record run of 24 consecutive final victories, which was snapped when he lost 2005 Masters Cup final to David Nalbandian. Finished the season with an 81-4 win-loss record.

* In 2006 he reached all four grand slam finals, winning in Australia, Wimbledon and the U.S. among a haul of 12 titles and a 92-5 win-loss record.

* Has a professional era record of 65 consecutive wins on grass, which was ended by Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final.

* Won an Olympic men's doubles gold medal with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Games.

PERSONAL LIFE

* Suffered from a bout of glandular fever at the start of the 2008 season which affected his form.

* Married long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in April 2009 and celebrated the arrival of twin daughters three months later.

Reuters