A marathon fifth game in the third set proved to be the key in Roger Federer's record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title win.
The cerebral Swiss ace outlasted Andy Murray and permanently turned the match in his favour by claiming victory in the nearly 20-minute long, sixth game of the third set. In doing so, Federer once again proved himself a master of contrasting tennis styles.
In his semifinal triumph over Novak Djokovic, Federer established a frantic pace and dominated the Serb with a master class in speed tennis. Against Murray, Federer began cagey and almost cautious in a more deliberate performance.
After leveling the match at one set apiece, Federer used the sixth game of the third set to assume full control. In a game featuring six break points, Murray eventually yielded to the pressure created by Federer's clever and classy returns.
The epic game showcased Federer's finest strength: his ability to manufacture a shot when he needs it the most. Rafa Nadal may have greater power, Djokovic may have more patience and Murray has youth on his side, but none can match Federer's knack for producing a flourish in critical situations.
With Murray tumbling across the court and attempting to keep up, Federer chose exactly the right moment to confound the Scot with a drop volley or a gentle backhand pass. He chased down a 40-0 Murray lead and won the tussle around break points to take the game.
From that point, Murray was beaten, and it was just a matter of time before Federer closed out the match. Murray continued to battle hard, but Federer continued to turn on the style in a performance reminiscent of his younger days.
Federer's record-tying Wimbledon win will probably be remembered for the flair he displayed. However, it was his ability to produce his best in the clutch that keyed the victory and has truly defined Federer as a champion.
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