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Old fox, fresh face

Editorial |

One seasoned veteran soldiered on, another gave way to the freshness of youth. Thus was life itself encapsulated on the hallowed turf of Wimbldeon. For sport is nothing if not a miniaturised version of the triumphs, tribulations, joys and fruits of human existence ~ and few disciplines reflect that more than tennis.

It is lonely out there on court, the player has only herself or himself to laud or deprecate for what the scoreboard eventually proclaims.

And what a stupendous proclamation it was when just a month short of attaining the age of 36 it was the name of Roger Federer that was inscribed ~ for a record eighth time ~ on that highly-coveted trophy.

A few years down the road the 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 score-line might tempt someone to believe that the Swiss maestro was un-stretched as he re-wrote the chronicle, but the reality was that his had been a well-strategised campaign over the past six months. That too, an essay conducted with clinical efficiency that saw him win the crown without dropping a set, and mentally degrading an opponent with a considerable physical advantage.

It was with the wiles of an old fox that Federer confirmed to all present ~ including the legendary Rod Laver ~ that he is the most “complete” player to have trod the court. His two sets of twins might not have known it on Sunday, their Dad was touching unimaginable heights. Sure there were occasional imperfections in his play; that he delved deep into physical and mental reserves to overcome each potential setback embellishes the human element of the Federer saga.

Those who have witnessed his exploits, either “live” or electronically, these past 14 years must consider themselves privileged, blessed members of the sporting world. For when comes such another is a question even the Gods might hesitate to answer.

The story was rather different on Saturday. The “newest” of the Spanish queens had established her credentials in Paris a year ago, but form seemed to have deserted until this English summer.

So hers’ too was something of a comeback story. She did have rich talent on her side, but was pitted against the experience and court-craft of one of her youthful idols. In summoning the capacities to virtually demolish Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza sent out a message that she could be a dominant force in the future.

To win against Venus demanded a freshness that gave renewed life to centre-court; Garbine offered that in no small measure. Yet neither Venus, nor Marin Cilic who was humbled by Federer, are spent bullets.

Venus is already eyeing prospects at Flushing Meadows, the strong-serving Croat will surely have another day the sun. And that adds to the magic of the wonderful weekend at Wimbledon.