LONDON (Reuters) - To suggest there may be life beyond tennis for Roger Federer seems almost like heresy, but the greatest ever grasscourt player’s thoughts strayed in that direction on Friday after he set yet another Wimbledon record.
In beating Czech Tomas Berdych in straight sets, the Swiss became the first man to reach 11 finals at the All England Club - making the contention that, after knee surgery and a six-month layoff, he is back to his best at 35 more compelling than ever.
“It was a long way back in some ways. Last year was so difficult. Just to stay calm and speak to the team, to take another decision that we were going to sit out and wait,” Federer told the BBC after his 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4 win.
January’s Australian Open marked his competitive comeback and he won it, besting great rival Rafa Nadal in five sets in a final for the ages. Since then Federer has only lost twice.
“I‘m so happy I did (the break) because my life continues after tennis too. And that’s at this point almost more important than playing itself,” Federer said.
“I want to be a good dad and a good husband and a guy who can do sports later on too, so I think giving your body a rest from time to time is a good thing, as we see now.”
After another dose of R&R in missing the claycourt season to better prepare for his favourite tournament, he has yet to drop a set this fortnight.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic stands between him and a record eighth Wimbledon title, an outcome Federer was at pains not to take for granted.
“Last year we had a brutal quarter-final. I was down two sets to love and match points down,” he said. “At some stage things were extremely complicated and I had to get really, really lucky to win.”
Whether that might set a precedent for Sunday is another matter for the spectacularly rejuvenated Federer.
In 2016, the Swiss lost in the Wimbledon semi-finals to Milos Raonic. This year he gained revenge over the Canadian in the quarters for the loss of just 12 games.
Reporting by John Stonestreet, editing by Ed Osmond