LONDON, July 6 – Roger Federer made history on Sunday when he defeated brave Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 16-14 to win a sixth Wimbledon title and claim a record 15th Grand Slam crown in a classic final.But the 27-year-old Swiss second seed was given a huge fright by the American sixth seed who led by a set, had four set points in the second and didn’t drop serve until the final, heartbreaking game of the match.
In an extraordinary conclusion, the deciding set was, at 95 minutes, the longest ever played in a men’s Wimbledon final and was longer than it took the Williams sisters to contest the women’s final on Saturday.
Federer now has six Wimbledon titles, five US Opens, three Australian Opens and a French Open trophy, and has surpassed Pete Sampras’s mark of 14 majors.
He will also reclaim his world number one spot from Rafael Nadal, who beat him in a five-set final here last year.
"Andy (Roddick) played an unbelievable tournament. He’s a great guy but there has to be a winner sometimes," said Federer after the 4hr 16min final.
"I didn’t hold the trophy last year. But it feels great after such a crazy match which could have gone on for a few more hours. My head is still spinning.
"Getting 15 Grand Slam titles is not something you dream about when you are a little boy, but I’ve had a great career.
"It’s been quite a month winning the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back just like Bjorn Borg did.
"I don’t play to break records but it’s great to have them."
Roddick, who has now lost three Wimbledon finals to Federer, was in tears at the end of the match.
"Roger is a true champion and he deserves all he gets," said Roddick.
"I hope to come back one day and get my name up on that winners’ board."
When asked later if he had just lost to the greatest player of all time, Roddick replied: "Yes."
Sampras, and fellow greats Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg were on hand to watch Federer’s bid for history, as were Hollywood giants Woody Allen and Russell Crowe, such was the attraction of the Centre Court blockbuster.
Sampras had flown in from his California home and he agreed with Roddick.
"In my book, Roger is the greatest of all time. He has his critics and people point to Rafael Nadal beating him, but for me he’s the greatest. He is a legend and an icon," said Sampras.
"He is a great champion and a good guy. He’s very humble, which I like."
Federer, in a record seventh straight Wimbledon final and 20th Grand Slam title match, saw Roddick save four break points in the 11th game of the opening set and he immediately paid a heavy price.
The Swiss went wide with a crosscourt drive, which put him set point down, and then repeated the error to hand the American the opener 7-5.
Roddick, whose only Grand Slam title came at the 2003 US Open, lost the 2004 and 2005 finals here to Federer, just two of his 18 defeats in 20 previous career meetings with the world number two.
But on Sunday he wisely adopted the same game plan he employed in his semi-final win over Britain’s Andy Murray, a powerful mix of trademark big groundstrokes punctuated by regular visits to the net.
Roddick then stretched to a 6/2 lead, and four set points, in the second set tiebreaker, but Federer fought back and levelled the final when the American unleashed a wild backhand.
Roddick was now under siege, saving a break point in the sixth game of the third set before another tiebreaker was required.
Federer went to three set points, two of which Roddick saved, but the Swiss opened up a two sets to one lead when a Roddick service return fell comfortably into his hitting zone and he despatched a fierce forehand winner.
But Roddick, playing in his first Grand Slam final since the 2006 US Open, refused to surrender and broke Federer to lead 3-1 in the fourth set on his way to levelling the final.
Federer again failed to convert a break point in the second game of the marathon decider before he was forced to fight off two on his own serve in the 17th game.
But eventually Roddick, always having to play catch-up, finally wilted in the 30th game of the decider when he ballooned a weary forehand long.