Roger Federer feels ‘strange’ being in Wimbledon final, 16 years after first

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates after winning his semifinal match against Spain's Rafael Nadal. (Reuters)
Updated 13 July 2019

Roger Federer feels ‘strange’ being in Wimbledon final, 16 years after first

  • On Sunday, he will face world number one Novak Djokovic
  • Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003

WIMBLEDON, London: Roger Federer admitted Friday that it felt "strange" he and Serena Williams will compete for Wimbledon titles this weekend, 16 years after he made his Grand Slam breakthrough.
The 37-year-old Swiss reached his 12th final at the All England Club with a 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of old rival Rafael Nadal.
On Sunday, he will face world number one Novak Djokovic where he hopes to capture a ninth Wimbledon and record-extending 21st Grand Slam crown.
Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final.
That same weekend, Serena was beating sister Venus for the second successive year in the women's final.
On Saturday, Serena faces Simona Halep for an eighth Wimbledon title and record-equalling 24th major.
"Yeah, it's definitely a bit unusual, a bit strange," said Federer who will be the third oldest man to play in a Slam final on Sunday.
"I hope it's going to happen again for somebody, to have such a big span between the first final.
"It's definitely special I think for both of us. Serena was even earlier on tour than me because she made the breakthrough earlier. It's amazing what she's been able to do.
"For me, it's not something I ever expected. Winning that '03 title was something so surreal that it's nice to be back in another final. Means really a lot to me."
Federer's win over Nadal on Friday came in the pair's 40th career meeting and 11 years after the Spaniard triumphed in a mesmeric, epic final.
The Swiss needed five match points to secure the victory, his 16th of their 15-year rivalry.
"It lived up to the hype, especially from coming out of the gates, we were both playing very well.
"Then the climax at the end with the crazy last game, some tough rallies there. It had everything at the end, which was great. I'm just relieved it's all over at this point.
"But it's definitely going to go down as one of my favourite matches to look back at because it's Rafa, it's at Wimbledon."
Djokovic leads Federer 25-22 in career meetings with the Serb holding a 2-1 edge in Wimbledon clashes.
Federer won their first duel in the 2012 semi-finals but Djokovic triumphed in the 2014 and 2015 championship matches.
Overall, Djokovic holds a 9-6 edge in the Slams.
However, Federer said he won't be over-awed by the challenge as he chases a 21st major and Djokovic targets a 16th.
"Age kicks in. I know it's not over yet. There's no point to start partying tonight or get too emotional, too happy about it, even though I am extremely happy," said Federer.
"I think I can with experience really separate the two.
"If it was the end of the tournament, it would be very different right now. I'd be speaking very different, feeling very different. There is fortunately, one more.
"It's great on many levels. But got to put my head down and stay focused."


Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

Updated 28 March 2020

Europe mulls finishing football season at end of year

  • The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport
  • Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August

ROME: Europe’s football bosses have not given up hope of finishing this pandemic-hit season — even if it might have to be done at the start of the next one.
The novel coronavirus has created an existential challenge to the world’s most widely played and watched sport.
Europe’s football leagues are the planet’s richest and can afford to pay the most money to the biggest stars.
But that system could come crumbling down quickly if there is nothing to show on TV.
Cristian Ronaldo has not had a chance to celebrate goals for Juventus for nearly three weeks because Italy’s Serie A had to shut down.
He and other Italian league stars are thinking of giving up millions of euros in salary to help their teams stay solvent.
UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin told Italy’s La Repubblica daily that he was holding urgent talks with the continent’s biggest leagues to figure out what can be done.
The Slovenian said all options were under consideration in an effort to salvage the season and preserve the sanctity of the beautiful game.
“We could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June,” Ceferin said.
Any time after that and “the season will probably be lost.”
The idea of the entire season simply being canceled stirs panic in fans of clubs such as Liverpool — on the cusp of lifting their first title in 30 years.
Ronaldo’s Juventus would probably not be terribly happy either. The men in the famous black-and-white stripes are edging Lazio by a point in their race for a ninth successive title and are still in the Champions League, which they have not won since 1996.
Ceferin said he opposed the idea of playing games in empty stadiums and would prefer to wait out the pandemic.
He also hinted that some big teams appeared ready to delay the start of next season in ordered to finish out this one.
“There is also a proposal to end this season at the beginning of the next one and then start the next one a little later,” Ceferin said.
Serie A and most other European leagues were originally supposed to have finished in May.
Belarus remain the only European nation still playing football in the face of a pandemic that by Saturday had officially claimed nearly 30,000 lives.
Italy’s world-leading death toll from Friday was 9,134.
But the scheduling is growing tricky and time appears to be running out.
Most European leagues are supposed to start their 2019-20 seasons at the end of August.
Italy still has more than two regular months of matches of the 2018-19 season to play out.
A resumption of the current season at the end of June would probably require a delay to the start of the next one until at least September or October.
It would also mean that players get very little rest and would also create problems for those whose contracts are expiring in June.
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina sounded fine with that.
“We would all be happy to finish the season on the pitch,” said Gravina told Sky television.
“We are in contact with FIFA for contract extensions if we need to go beyond June 30.”
Gravina did not explain why he was talking to the world football governing body and not the European one headed by Ceferin.
But he did conceded that his earlier hope of restarting Italian matches in early May was now almost certainly dashed.
“I am aware that it is still too early,” said Gravina. “But we must think positively.”