It was a memorable milestone for Roger Federer, who became the first man in the history of the Wimbledon Championships to lift the title eight times.
But it was not a memorable final. What we will remember is the despair of Marin Cilic, who came in carrying a damaged left foot – judging by the strapping around it – and then seemed to accentuate the problem when he slipped and fell in the fifth game of the match.
Early in the second set, the doctor and the trainer were called to attend Cilic at a changeover. His distress soon overwhelmed him and he sat weeping into his towel while Federer discreetly changed ends and returned to the court.
The spectators were concerned that that might be the end of the match. Already, ten men had retired from the court in these Championships because of injury, including Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final. The last time it happened in a men’s final was in 1911, and we can be confident that there were not 15,000 spectators watching that day, with a ticket costing almost £200 in their pocket.
Cilic did at least choose to continue, and as a result he pulled off a near-impossible feat: turning the crowd against Federer on Centre Court. It wasn’t that they wanted Cilic to win. They just wanted him to put up a fight, and extend the match somewhere close to the two-hour mark.
In terms of general competitiveness, the first four games represented the high-water mark. Cilic came out delivering the sort of thunderous groundstrokes that had shunted Federer backwards in their US Open semi-final of 2014 – a match that Cilic unexpectedly won in straight sets.
He held a break point in the fourth game, but couldn’t find the court with his backhand return. And then his feet went out from under him, in both a literal and figurative sense, just a minute or two later. Federer won four of the next five games to clinch the first set.
After a brief and uncompetitive second set, Cilic took a medical time-out at the start of the third, and had his foot treated by the trainer. He stabilised a little thereafter, but the only real question was whether Federer would be able to maintain his concentration.
The answer was yes. Federer has played well over 1300 matches in his career. He might not have been in this situation before on Centre Court, but he has surely seen it elsewhere. And while the quality of tennis overall remained disappointing, he maintained enough pressure to rule out a Cilic comeback.
In the end, an ace clinched Federer’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory in 1hr 41min. It was the first time Federer had won Wimbledon without dropping a set, and only the second time anyone had done so in the Open era, after Bjorn Borg in 1976.
As for the fans, who might have felt a little short-changed, there was always the mixed-doubles showdown to look forward to: Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis against Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen.
Billie Jean King: Federer the greatest of all time
The pair have 31 grand slam titles between them.
A record 8 Wimbledon championships and a lifetime of being a champion on and off the court and @rogerfederer is the greatest of all time
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 16, 2017
Cilic quotes in full
"It was definitely one of the unfortunate days for me for this to happen. I had a really bad blister and fluid came down into the callus," the 28-year-old said.
"It was tough emotionally because I know how much went into the preparation in the past few months.
"It was really bad luck but I wanted to give my best and try as much as I could. But it was tough when you are in that situation because you know there is not much chance to win."
Cilic said the blister had surfaced during his run to the final, which included a long five-setter against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the quarter-finals.
Cilic reveals bad blister behind his pain
#Cilic tears - "A feeling that I knew I could not give my best game, tennis in such a big match. V diff to deal with it, that feeling."
— Dan Kilpatrick (@Dan_KP) July 16, 2017
You can be certain he'll be hungry for more.
Federer on march up rankings
Will no points to defend from here until the rest of the year, Federer could yet end the season as world No 1 again.
He'll be back up to world No 3 when the latest standings are announced tomorrow.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) July 16, 2017
The most one-sided final in 15 years
Match debrief from data reporter Patrick Scott:
Marin Cilic managed to win just eight games today, which is the lowest total for a beaten Wimbledon finalist since 2002 when Lleyton Hewitt saw off David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The closest final in terms of games won by the opponent in recent times was Federer's win over Andy Roddick in 2009. Roddick won 39 games in the epic five-setter, one more than Federer who won 38.
Roger on winning eight titles here
"I guess again it's just belief, achieve such heights. I wasn't sure if I was going to be here again after last year. I've had some tough finals. I always believed I could come back here again. I kept believing and dreaming and here I am today."
"Cilic fought well, he's a hero. Congratulations on an incredible tournament. You should be very proud to play in these finals. Sometimes you don't always feel great in the finals. I hope we can play down the road in some better ones.
"I've got to take more time off. I'll be gone again for the next six months if it keeps working out this fantastic when I come back! Winning today is just about being healthy. It feels great, holding the trophy now and the tournament I've played not dropping a set is magical. It's too much, really."
Cilic speaks to Sue
"I gave my best, that's all I could do."
He starts to well up.
"I had an amazing journey here. Played my best tennis here and I want to thank my team for being an incredible strength. It was really tough today, I gave it my all and I hope to come back here and give it one more chance."
Neither Marin Cilic (742 matches) nor Roger Federer (1,416 matches) has retired mid-match with injury. Impressive streaks, both. #Wimbledon
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 16, 2017
A great reaction from the crowd on Centre as Cilic steps up to receive his runners-up trophy. Federer's kids now have their legs hanging over the player box balcony as he steps up to hold the golden trophy aloft for the eighth time.
Federer lands record-breaking eighth crown at Wimbledon
Plenty of hugging and kissing in Federer's playing corner but the Swiss holds back from climbing up to his box, instead opting to wait on his chair.
The kids are brought out into the players' box, with the two boys looking resplendent in matching navy suits and now the tears come from Federer as he catches sight of them. His daughters are somewhere in his box too.
Federer 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 Cilic* (*next server)
Federer serves for the championship. He tightens up on the first point, pushing a groundstroke long. No worries. He backs it up with an ace as the camera pans to a frantically chewing and clapping Mirka.
Two unreturnable first serves take Federer to two championship points. The first goes by as Cilic forces Federer to go long with a forehand. Ace No 8 brings up an historic eighth Wimbledon title. GAME, SET AND MATCH: FEDERER BEATS CILIC FOR 19TH GRAND SLAM TITLE
Federer* 6-3, 6-1, 5-4 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic now tries to mix things up, rushing the net and dispatching a volley into the corner away from Federer. He's found his first serves again, with an ace helping him on his way to three game points. Just as I type that last sentence he throws in a double. Surely he won't let Federer back into this game. He doesn't. Federer will have to serve for the championships.
Federer 6-3, 6-1, 5-3 Cilic* (*next server)
There's still life in Cilic yet. One well disguised drop shot beats Federer hands down, but it only brings him to 30-15. Federer lets out his first 'C'mon' at slapping a forehand winner down the line and then moves to one game from his eighth title here and 19th overall. Federer's dad is on his feet in the players' box. He'll no doubt be jumping up again in a minute or so.
Federer* 6-3, 6-1, 4-3 Cilic (*next server)
Errors coming from Cilic's forehand and backhand wings now as Federer is given the gift of two break points.
Another forehand error doesn't have the oomph to creep over the net and Federer breaks for the first time this set. It's surely just a moment of time. FEDERER BREAKS.
Meanwhile, there's sympathy coming from all corners of the country...
The only thing injured about Cilic is his pride. He's moving fine. https://t.co/PkwxqVjCIm
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 16, 2017
Federer 6-3, 6-1, 3-3 Cilic* (*next server)
A serving masterclass from Federer as he holds to love. Throws the pressure straight back on his rival again.
— Pat Cash (@TheRealPatCash) July 16, 2017
Federer* 6-3, 6-1, 2-3 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic's first serve percentage is starting to improve while he gets the rub of the green as one volley clips the top of the net but lands flat dead to prevent Federer from chasing down.
The Croatian is still yet to steer his way through a comfortable hold, allowing Federer to creep back to 30 before delivering the killer blow with only his fourth ace of the match.
No matter what happens here, if your heart doesn't go out for Marin Cilic at the moment, you're not human. Great guy. Obviously struggling.
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) July 16, 2017
Federer 6-3, 6-1, 2-2 Cilic* (*next server)
If there was any doubt whether Federer has found his range today, a forehand winner that lands flush on the baseline is evidence of that. Cilic gets himself dancing behind the baseline as he shapes to receive. The Croatian is a bundle of energy, trying to loosen himself up. It's working, or certainly unsettling Federer as the Swiss is dragged back to deuce.
Federer responds with an outswinging ace and then draws another error from Cilic to hold.
Cilic is serving far worse than usual, Federer much better
This now from our data reporter, Patrick Scott:
Marin Cilic is renowned for having a big serve, but, for whatever reason, it appears to have completely deserted him in this match. Cilic usually wins about 66 per cent of the points on his serve, dropping to 64 per cent when playing against Federer in their past meetings. Today, however, the proportion of points Cilic has won on serve is hovering at around 50 per cent. With Federer winning 81 per cent of the points on his own serve, this is turning into a very one-sided final.
Federer* 6-3, 6-1, 1-2 Cilic (*next server)
It's tough for Cilic to take out and there must be so many things running through his head. He can't refocus his mind. The crowd are doing their best to lift his spirits even though most of them want to see a Federer win.
A roar goes up as Cilic lands a point on his serve. Another rousing round of applause rings round as Cilic pushes a backhand winner down the line for 30-all. Yet the first serve errors keep going absent. Federer almost gets away with a shanked return during a lengthy rally to strike into the sidelines, but a backhand winner cross-court, with Cilic stuck on the baseline again, keeps the Swiss hanging around this game.
More sloppy play on Cilic's forehand wing hand Federer advantage and a first break point of this set. Andrew Castle offers a condescending 'well done' as Cilic smashes a volley to save it. A forehand into the corner backed up by a first serve see Castle offering a 'good boy' remark as Cilic retreats to his chair.
Federer 6-3, 6-1, 1-1 Cilic* (*next server)
Federer focusing on Cilic's forehand and drawing the errors from the Croatian to move to two game points. An ace down the T throws the pressure straight back on the seventh seed.
You forget athletes are humans with real emotions. The sport of tennis is so hard because you're out there all by yourself.
— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) July 16, 2017
Federer* 6-3, 6-1, 0-1 Cilic (*next server)
That time-out and re-dressing has done Cilic the power of good. He looks to be romping through a service game before Federer sends a service winnner past the Croatian. At least he does him the good grace of allowing him a brief moment in the sun by sticking his nose in front this set.
Cilic has now taken a medial time-out to have treatment on his left foot. The doctor takes some tape off to treat some blisters and then gets to work on wrapping some fresh tape round the problem. No tears from Cilic now, just some heavy breathing and a glazed over look.
Incidentally, the last time a player retired in a Wimbledon final was back in 1911.
Federer 6-3, 6-1 Cilic* (*next server)
There's no let up from Federer as he continues to 'hammer' Cilic, according to Andrew Castle.
He brings up three set points. An ace brings up the set and he's now just one set from a record eighth title. The doctor and physio head out to speak and possibly treat Cilic.
Mirka is definitely repeatedly calling Cilic a "crybaby" under her breath right now.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) July 16, 2017
Federer* 6-3, 5-1 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic and Federer engage in their first lengthy rally of the match but Federer still won't give the Croatian an inch as he pins him behind the baseline and draws him in for deuce. Federer keeps his foot on the gas by flashing a backhand service return winner past the wounded Cilic for break point.
Federer sticks out his racket and connects to bring up another break point, and when Cilic can't control a volley at the net, Federer will serve for a two sets lead. FEDERER BREAKS.
Nerves on serve?
Here's more analysis from our data reporter Patrick Scott:
Last time these two met was in the quarter-finals of last year's Wimbledon when a total of 50 aces were served by the two players in the epic five set match. Usually, Federer and Cilic hit an ace once every ten points with Cilic being slightly more prolific. In the first set of this year's final, however, neither man managed to hit an ace. Could the nerves of the occasion have gotten to these two experienced campaigners?
Federer 6-3, 4-1 Cilic* (*next server)
Federer hasn't been thrown by Cilic's outpouring of emotion. The Swiss has stayed very much in his own little bubble, steering out another game, this time to 15.
Federer* 6-3, 3-1 Cilic (*next server)
Bjorkman and Cilic's camp all on the edge of their seats now trying to gee up their man. A couple of deep breaths, a roll of his shoulders and he's good to go again.
Still the errors come from Cilic, though, a tame volley into the net brings Federer in at 30-all, but Cilic gets it together to get on the board this set with a tidy backhand volley down low.
Cilic in tears on Centre
Cilic heads to his chair sobbing his heart out. The trainer comes on to see to a problem. It looks like he's held his leg or knee a couple of times after serving, but this doesn't look good for the big Croatian.
He continues to wipe the tears from his eyes with his towel. Cilic gives himself a moment to regroup by throwing the towel over his head. Federer is ready at the service line to continue. The crowd give Cilic a fantastic response. They want to see a competitive final. Let's play...
Federer 6-3, 3-0 Cilic* (*next server)
Federer in a hurry now to try and keep the heat on Cilic who has made 13 unforced errors so far, compared to Federer's five. Cilic is just pushing too long in his attempts to keep Federer at the baseline. Cilic pulls another groundstoke wide and it's an easy hold for Federer.
Federer* 6-3, 2-0 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic starts with his first ace of the match, clocked at 129mph. He returns to type on the next, missing a first serve and Federer takes full advantage of the opening again. Another ace, this time down the T and clocked a tad faster at 130mph move him clear of Fed, only for a deep forehand and then backhand into the same spot at the back of the baseline to hand Federer an early look at break point this set.
Cilic's rhythm is off and he lofts a backhand into the sidelines to hand Federer the break. FEDERER BREAKS.
Federer 6-3, 1-0 Cilic* (*next server)
Cilic took out his frustrations at the end of the set by cranking his racket on his chair and then spends the changeover time inspecting it.
Federer starts the second set as he ended the first, in full control and command. An ace out wide is followed by an unreturnable serve out wide. Another solid first serve takes him to three game points and when Cilic can't get enough on another first serve, Federer is up and rolling this set.
Federer* 6-3 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic still frantically bouncing the life out of those balls as he goes through his lengthy service motion. He's upped his first serve percentage to around the 51% mark but it needs to be up in the 70s if he's going to put the pressure on Federer.
Crucially, at 30-all, Cilic shows great hands to get a reply back but Federer steps in to drill a rasping backhand winner cross-court. It sets up set point. Cilic saves it with a strong first serve down the middle. Federer jumps on a second serve and Cilic sends a groundstroke into the sidelines to hand Federer a second set point. A double fault hands Federer the first set after 36 minutes. FEDERER BREAKS AND WINS FIRST SET.
Ready to witness a historic tennis day.
— PATRICKMOURATOGLOU (@pmouratoglou) July 16, 2017
Federer 5-3 Cilic* (*next server)
Federer starting to turn the screw as he throws in a blink and you miss it sort of love-hold game.
Federer hits more winners and fewer unforced errors than Cilic
Our data reporter Patrick Scott has been taking a closer look at both players:
This is the eighth occasion on which Cilic and Federer have met with six of the previous seven going in favour of the Swiss.
Somewhat ominously for Cilic, Federer tends to hit more winners and fewer unforced errors than the Croat.
Figures from Jeff Sackmann's innovative Match Charting Project suggest that 8.1 per cent of Federer's shots are winners compared to 7.3 per cent for Cilic. There's even more of a gap when it comes to unforced errors with Cilic hitting one 12.3 per cent of the time to Federer's 9.6 per cent.
Both players are fairly aggressive compared to the rest of the top 50 but Federer's genius is that he makes few mistakes.
Federer* 4-3 Cilic (*next server)
Cilic steps in and punches a forehand winner into the corner for 30-0 and then takes advantage of a dodgy bounce down the T to mop up a short return from Federer.
Federer won't allow him a love-hold as he cranks a flashing forehand service return winner past Cilic. A well-disguised drop shot from Federer has the crowd purring with delight and leaves Cilic stuck in the mud on the baseline. And from a position of strength this game, Cilic wilts, being pulled back to deuce.
He gets a timely first serve in and that lifts his spirit and manages to hold when Federer sends a couple of service returns into the net.
Federer 4-2 Cilic* (*next server)
How quickly the tide has turned. While Cilic had looked to settle quicker than his rival, since missing that break point, it's been all Federer.
The third seed races to three game points and cements the break when Cilic can't put a service return back in.
Federer* 3-2 Cilic (*next server)
Federer advances to the net for the first time to pick up a low and short ball. Cilic manages to scoop up Federer's drop shot but slips as he sends his reply back and Federer makes a superb pick up on his backhand wing.
That's unsettled Cilic and Federer races to three break points himself. The first goes as Federer sends a service return long. Federer sends another forehand deep on the next point, but the pressure finally tells and Federer makes the first break. FEDERER BREAKS.
— Pat Cash (@TheRealPatCash) July 16, 2017
Federer 2-2 Cilic* (*next server)
Both men struggling to get their first serves in, Federer around the 70% mark while Cilic is down at 46%. Another double fault, his second of the match so far brings Cilic back to 30-all. He's only made 12 doubles the whole two weeks. Cilic has the great man scampering across the baseline and forces the error from Federer to bring up a first break point of the match.
Cilic can't make inroads on a second serve and slaps a backhand return into the middle. Becker isn't happy: "Put the ball back into court, at least". The Croatian dumps another return into the net and then forces Cilic to send a forehand long.
Federer saves first break point of match.
Federer* 1-2 Cilic (*next server)
Federer gets into the game with a deep backhand service return which Cilic has trouble to dig out from his feet for 30-15 but it's the only point he takes off the Cilic serve. A solid hold for the Croatian.
Federer 1-1 Cilic* (*next server)
Cilic shows great aggression on the opening point of Federer's serve. Just when the Swiss looked to be seizing momentum and moving forward, Cilic keeps him shuffling to the baseline and forces him to dump a backhand into the net.
A cracking forehand winner from Cilic after pinpointing Federer's backhand takes him to 15-30, but serve-volleying moves Fed level. It's a high standard of play early doors from both men. Cilic has settled quickly in his first Wimbledon final. A double fault allows the Croatian to stick around for deuce but he finds a couple of first serves to dig himself out of a potential hole.
Federer* 0-1 Cilic (*next server)
Federer opted to receive in opening game of final after winning ball toss. The seven-times champion jumps on a second serve to win the first point but Cilic is straight on the board when Federer backhands a service return in the middle.
Cilic shows nerves with a wild forehand but then draws the error from Federer's backhand wing to draw level 30-all. Cilic goes through his frantic ball-bouncing routine as he shapes to send down another serve. He gets a first serve in this time but a fizzing return catches out Cilic. The seventh seed finally steers his way through to hold.
Sue Barker suggests that Cilic has engaged in early mind games by making Federer wait at the net for the toin coss.
Cilic is frantically trying to break through the cellophane and get to his prized racket. The toin coss is taken, photographs snapped and both men go through their warm-ups.
This tickets are like gold dust. Not everyone looks to be happy to be potentially part of history...
Here they come
Federer follows behind Cilic on to Centre to rapturous applause and a standing ovation. A flash to the players' corners shows Mirka looking splendid in a lacy white dress. Kate and Wills have taken their seats, the Duchess of Cambridge sporting a Wimbledon bow-tie badge on her white dress.
Players waiting in the wings
Cilic is first out of the locker room, hands his bag over to his young helper (such is protocol on finals day) and awaits the presence of Mr Federer. They take the long walk along the corridor, looking at the walls lined with pictures of past champions.
This is the first time for Cilic and he looks to be soaking up the moment. Federer, as usual, looks like it's just a normal day of walking through his living room.
What it's like to face Federer in a Wimbledon final
This is great from Andy Roddick, who suffered four defeats to Federer in grand slam finals, on what it was like to face Federer in a Wimbledon final.
"He was intimidating in his own way He would be laughing, joking and relaxing before a Wimbledon final. In those same moments, I could have chewed through a nail. I didn't understand it."
Ivanisevic, meanwhile, who coached Cilic from 2013 to 2016 says that his former pupil must learn from last year's missed opportunity. He said earlier this week:
"If there is a lesson from last year’s match then it is when Federer is down, you need to stamp on him, kick him, hurt him some more.
"Roger is like someone from a film: Kill him and he gets up, so you have to kill him again. You have to kill him about 77 times to win."
An honest response
Russia's Mikhail Youzhny was asked what Federer's weaknesses are in the build up to today's final. He was honest in his response:
"Given that my record against him is 0-16 I'm not in a position to talk about his weaknesses."
Tim Henman, at least, who beat Federer six times during his career (but also lost seven) is better placed to offer how Cilic can overcome the grass-court master.
If Cilic is going to have a chance, I think that is where he really needs to be super-aggressive from the back of the court and try to take Federer's time away to stop him dictating points, he told the BBC.
Cilic is a tall guy with long arms and a very big reach so he is able to get a lot of serves back in play, and be aggressive about it too - particularly against second serves. He has to do that against Federer, every time he gets a look at a second serve. It will be harder for him to do that in the final than in any of his six matches here so far, because Federer has got a great second serve too, but Cilic has to attack him whenever he gets the chance.
Who does Muguruza want to dance with tonight?
Women's winner Garbine Muguruza has made his pick for who she wants to be dancing the night away with at the winners' ball this evening.
— The Overrule (@theoverrule) July 15, 2017
Federer has No 8 in his sights
The great man took to the practice courts this morning and with 12 courts to select from, he opted to train on court No 8. Is this a sign of things to come later?
Cilic, meanwhile, headed to Aorangi Park such has been his traditional build up.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 16, 2017
Meanwhile, reader Mahesh Pillai has emailled his prediction: Federer wins championship 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3
Does Cilic stand a chance?
Marin Cilic says he's a better player than the one who squandered three match points in his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Federer last year.
The Croatian, who has become the first man to reach the final here since Goran Ivanisevic back in 2001, hadn't dropped a set before the quarter-finals and, alongside Federer, has been the form player of the championships.
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) July 16, 2017
Cilic has spent nearly five hours on court more than Federer which may not be much of a factor given he is seven years older than today's rival.
He is also looking to become the first player outside of the ‘Big Four’ (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray) to win Wimbledon since 2002, when Lleyton Hewitt won the title here.
An important day for @cilic_marin tomorrow, he is having afternoon tea on Centre Court with Royalty. Goodnight everybody fans x
— Not Roger Federer (@PseudoFed) July 15, 2017
Does he stand a chance today though? Cilic has lost 11 of his 12 matches against top-five opposition at the grand slams. His one exception was when he blew Federer away in the 2014 US Open semi-finals. It's been his only success against Federer in seven attempts.
Let's hear your predictions. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Federer goes for a record-breaking eighth title
Fourteen years after winning his first Wimbledon title and Roger Federer can create history by winning an eighth major at SW19 this afternoon.
Federer has looked unstoppable this year, and in particular this fortnight as he chases his 19th grand slam overall.
The 35-year-old is yet to drop a set en route to his 29th major final and, should he beat Marin Cilic in three sets this afternoon, would become the first player since Bjorn Borg 41 years ago to win the trophy without dropping a set here.
Let's look back at that moment when Federer defeated Australian Mark Philippoussis in straight sets in 2003 for his first grand slam triumph.