Roger Federer will remain tied with Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles in the Open era for at least one more year. The seven-time champion was eliminated from the 2014 edition of the marquee event by Novak Djokovic in a thrilling championship match.
Wimbledon's Twitter account had the results:
It was an instant classic and proof that Federer still has plenty of gas in the tank.
He spoke about his play after the loss to Sam Sheringham of BBC Sports: "I'm very happy to see that I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks. That clearly makes me believe that this was just a stepping stone to many more great things in the future."
The 32-year old lost just one set on his way to the final match in one of his best performances at a Grand Slam in years.
Federer entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. Although his form has clearly slipped from the days when he was virtually unstoppable on the grass courts of the All England Club, he's still a threat every time he arrives at the season's third major.
The Swiss sensation was also coming off a win in the Halle warm-up event. Peter Bodo of ESPN.com passed along comments from Federer after the triumph, who felt confident about his chances of parlaying that success into a deep run at Wimbledon:
In the past, when I have played well at Halle, I have usually played well at Wimbledon. They have been two of my most successful tournaments, so I hope that this title will bring me luck again. Last year it didn't work out, but it did many times before. So I hope it will be back to the good old days.
For Federer, the "good old days" represent a time when he was winning multiple major titles on a yearly basis. It's hard to imagine him ever getting back to that level. There are still times when he plays well enough to beat anybody on tour, but those stretches don't last as long as in the past.
His lack of Grand Slam triumphs in recent years isn't just due to a decline in his performance, though. A key factor is playing alongside three other superstars in Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, making the road to a title very difficult.
Darren Cahill of ESPN noted how good the quartet has been while also praising their long-term success:
Djokovic, Nadal, Murray & Federer have combined to win 35 of last 37 majors. They remain seeded 1-4 @Wimbledon. Amazing lasting excellence.— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) June 19, 2014
Make it 36 of 38 after Djokovic's triumph.
With Federer on a slow but noticeable decline and the other members of the Big Four closer to the peak of their powers, it's tougher for him to win on the biggest stages. However, it's too soon to count him out from winning another major.
Wimbledon will remain his best chance moving forward due to his track record at the tournament and understanding of how to use the surface to his advantage. But he's also enjoyed plenty of success at the Australian Open and the season's final major, the U.S. Open.
How many more Grand Slam titles will Federer win?
He won five straight championships in New York starting in 2004. After his exit at Wimbledon, Federer's focus will soon shift back to the hard courts with an eye on making another push toward the business end of the final Grand Slam event of the year.
His results have dropped off as of late. Last year he was knocked out in the fourth round, which was his earliest elimination at the U.S. Open since 2003. Those type of stats are becoming more common for him, a sign that at age 32 all of the wear and tear is starting to catch up with him.
Yet there are still glimpses of the old Federer. Even though he's only won a single major over the past four years (2012 Wimbledon), there's always a chance he puts it all together for one or two more memorable championship runs.
It could happen in New York. One key is making sure he enjoys success during the U.S. Open Series in order to secure his ranking inside the top four for the draw. Avoiding the other Big Four members until at least the semifinals helps his cause.
Federer wasn't able to reach the mountaintop at Wimbledon for the eighth time, but any disappointment can be erased by a strong finish to 2014.