Highlights: Emotional Federer seals place in history at Wimbledon

Roger Federer looks emotional following victory over Marin Cilic in the men's final at Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA
Roger Federer looks emotional following victory over Marin Cilic in the men's final at Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA
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It almost had to be.

Perhaps it was not in the most romantic of ways but that was irrelevant for a sobbing Roger Federer as he claimed his eighth Wimbledon triumph.

Tears flowed down the 35-year-old’s face as he reflected on the greatness that had fallen upon him.

He sat back in his chair and caught a glimpse of twins Lenny and Leo with feet sprawled on top of the scoreboard on Centre Court, which shone to his delight with three sixes to his name.

The Swiss had delivered a typically ruthless display on Centre Court against a pained Marin Cilic and put his name on the famous trophy for a first time since beating Andy Murray in 2012.

As the tears stopped, he acknowledged his crowd, on his court, to signal the end of his championships.

Marin Cilic shows his frustration and disappointment during the men's singles final against Roger Federer on Sunday at Wimbledon. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

Marin Cilic shows his frustration and disappointment during the men's singles final against Roger Federer on Sunday at Wimbledon. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

This was another slice of history for a man who already had a record 18 Grand Slam championships to his name.

The eighth title made him Wimbledon’s most successful – overtaking Pete Sampras, the man he beat to perform a changing of the guard on his first Centre Court appearance in 2001.

Federer, who also won the title without losing a set for the first time, said: “Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion.

“If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you’re like a project.

I dreamed, I believed, and really hoped that I could actually maybe really do it to make it real. So I put in a lot of work, and it paid off.

Roger Federer

“I was not that kid. I was just really a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour.

“I dreamed, I believed, and really hoped that I could actually maybe really do it to make it real,” he said.

“So I put in a lot of work, and it paid off.”

Sadly for those that had bought tickets, Federer was not pushed to the levels of any of his previous seven victories.

Roger Federer stretches to make a forehand drop shot against Marin Cilic in Sunday's final at Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Roger Federer stretches to make a forehand drop shot against Marin Cilic in Sunday's final at Wimbledon. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Cilic, who had reached the final in his 11th crack at SW19, wept during the second set as blisters to his feet attacked him physically and mentally.

The world No 6 had taken Federer to five sets on the same court 12 months ago – but this time, his fierce striking deserted him.

All had been looking good for the 2015 US Open champion early on and he manoeuvred Federer on the baseline to set up break points at 2-1 in the first set.

However, a limp backhand handed Federer a reprieve as the 35-year-old maintained his serve. A second netted error from the Croat’s racket in the next game proved even more costly as service parity went.

That was the first sign of a weakness that quickly evolved for Cilic – and he proceeded to lose seven of the next eight games courtesy of wayward forehand slaps, misplaced volleys and brilliance from the other end.

Most 35-year-olds have creaks in their experienced limbs. But Federer is as far from your average veteran.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Roger Federer with the Wimbledon men's singles trophy he has now won a record-breaking EIGHT times. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Roger Federer with the Wimbledon men's singles trophy he has now won a record-breaking EIGHT times. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA.

And he proved his aerobic edge against his 6ft 6ins opponent to slip a low-bouncing backhand gloriously over the net and onto the baseline to claim his first set point.

The tears arrived for Cilic at 3-0 in the second.

Beset by pain and anguish, the Croat looked emotionally and physically broken with a towel slumped over his head as the tournament medics treated him.

To add insult to injury, Cilic was reminded of his opponent’s legend status as glee wallowed around Centre Court as Federer bared his chest to change his outfit.

Battling on grimly, the Croatian sixth seed held serve – only to lose it with more wayward shot-making in his next service game before seeing the set fall 6-1.

The 28-year-old was not simply gifting games to Federer, but adding the wrapping too.

“It was very difficult to deal with it,” Cilic said.

“It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.

“It was very difficult to focus on the match as my mind was all the time blocked with the pain. It was tough to focus on the tactics, on the things that I needed to do.”

Cilic’s emotional duress turned a crowd of RF-cap wearing fans to sway the opposite way in sorrow and he responded in kind with a battling performance in the third set.

For Federer, it would have been a shame if his moment had come from a retirement which has plagued the championships.

Instead, it came in a way so synonymous with the great man – a stinging ace down the ‘T’ line sealing victory and completing a tournament of straight sets wins for the first time at the All England club.

The eight games lost was the fewest Federer had conceded in a final at Wimbledon, although he did dismantle Lleyton Hewitt 6-0 7-6 6-0 in the 2004 US Open final.

Federer said: “Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament, will always be my favorite tournament.

“My heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here. Because of them, I think I became a better player, too.

“I didn’t think I was going to be this successful after beating Pete here. I hoped to have a chance maybe one day to be in a Wimbledon final and have a chance to win the tournament.

“To mark history here at Wimbledon really means a lot to me – simply because of all of that really.

“It’s that simple.”

On Federer, Cilic added: “His ability and his desire to continue to improve is definitely one of the best in the game.

“Even at the age that he is at now, he’s still improving, challenging himself to get better and better.

“He is an extremely great gentleman and one of the biggest ambassadors of tennis.”