Roger Federer, fresh from re-writing history by becoming the only man ever to win eight Wimbledon titles, is backing Andy Murray to bounce back from his hip injury and be better than ever.
The new champion, though, who flattened a hobbled Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 yesterday, does not advise that the world No 1 follows his example by taking half a year off. The Swiss did not play at all between Wimbledon last year and the start of this season and he skipped the clay-court season in the spring, but now that he is back, he is in the form of his life.
Yesterday’s victory at the All England Club coming on the back of his success at the Australian Open in January has pushed him up to No 3 in the world.
“I’m sure Andy’s going to take the right decisions moving forward,” Federer said. “He’s still got a lot of years left to play if he’s in the mood for it. We’ll see a great Andy Murray moving forward.
“It doesn’t mean because I took a break that everybody should take that break, to be quite honest. Some players just need to play. They need to play every other day, otherwise they feel like they completely lose touch with the racket and the ball. The body goes all funny on them. I think it’s only himself with his team who knows best. I can’t give any advice in this regard.
“But, for me, a break really worked wonders now. I am still surprised it did as much as it did. I had to take some tough decisions along the way, like pulling out of the French Open, pulling out of the clay-court season. Now, in hindsight, it looks so simple: You just do that to win Wimbledon. But it’s not.”
In 2001, Federer announced his intentions in SW19 by beating Pete Sampras in the fourth round. He was 19, he was talented but nobody – and certainly not Federer himself – ever believed that 16 years later he would be the greatest player the game has ever seen, that he would have won 19 grand slams and that he would be the most successful player ever to play on Centre Court. “Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion,” he said.
“If you do, I don’t know, 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 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 guess 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.”
He fully intends for it to pay off for a while yet. No matter that he turns 36 next month, Federer – provided he stays fit and healthy – has every intention of defending his title next year. But first, there is the US Open to deal with, starting at the end of next month. More history beckons and Federer intends to make it.