Federer in class by himself

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

WIMBLEDON -- Roger Federer smiled, that wide centre court smile he allows at the end of his matches, comfortably, easily and almost dispassionately.

This is what he does and how he does it.

He doesn't celebrate much.

He doesn't pump his fists. He doesn't jump up and down. He doesn't threaten to eat your children.

He just wins with Swiss efficiency, too easily, seemingly unemotional, but with a precision that rarely has been witnessed in his sport or any other.

Federer acted the part of surgeon yesterday, slicing and dicing Andy Roddick in near record time. His actions, not his temperament, seemed to indicate 'Who's next in the operating room?'

The answer is no one.

In less time than it took Venus Williams to finish off Lindsay Davenport -- 64 minutes less -- Federer demoralized Roddick in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4, to win his third consecutive Wimbledon title.

All this coming a month before his 24th birthday. He still is a kid in almost every imaginable way.

A kid and yet the best in the world.

A kid and conceivably the best to ever play.

Yesterday, Federer was so brilliant he barely was able to identify himself let alone his remarkable shot selection. To him, this almost seemed like an out-of-body experience.

And if it felt that way to Federer, imagine what it must have been like for Roddick.

"In a way, I think that this (Wimbledon) will take me longer to realize," said Federer, trying to explain his performance in one of the five languages he speaks. "I never really felt like I'm actually playing. It's like I'm not living this.

"So I don't know. It's a very strange feeling I have. It's probably going to take me days, months, weeks, years to realize this one."

Greatness can't always be explained, only appreciated. You watch the best from up close and can't always comprehend how they do what they do.

They can't always put their skills into words. How are we expected to understand?

"I mean, look at the stats," said Roddick, almost exasperated by the ease with which he was beaten. "Forty-nine winners and 12 errors. I was bringing heat, too. I was going at him, trying different things. You just have to sit back and just say 'too good' sometimes.

"He played head and shoulders above how he played last year. I probably played a more complete match this year."

Yet Roddick never was close. Not really. The first set lasted only 22 minutes and Federer won 16 of the 17 points on his serve. The second set went to a tie-breaker, with Federer winning all four points on Roddick's powerful serve. The third set was typical, almost mechanical, Federer. He broke Roddick's serve in the seventh game to go ahead 4-3, held serve and won the set.

There was never a moment -- not a single moment -- when Federer's defence of his championship seemed in doubt.

Now, with it, comes the inevitable comparisons. Federer has won three straight Wimbledon titles, which puts him on a short list with Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras, and Fred Perry if you really want to go back to another era of the game.

And the list ends there. There seems to be no reason why he won't win another Wimbledon and another after that. The place he now holds is something he is still coming to grips with.

"I amaze myself how incredible I use my talent," he said. "For those who follow me since I was a youngster, they know I had potential. But I don't think nobody would have ever thought it would be this extreme, basically dominating the game, winning three Wimbledons.

"One, you think, 'Wow, that's fantastic.' When you end up winning three, you're really starting to wonder, 'What have I done right in my career that this has happened to me?' "


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