Roger Federer celebrates his victory on the balcony after the final against Marin Cilic at Wimbledon on Sunday. (Getty Images)
London: Behind Roger Federer's artistry and charm lies a ruthless streak of razor-edged steel which surfaced again on Sunday as he thrashed suffering Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to secure a record eighth men's Wimbledon singles title.
The incomparable Swiss turned his 11th Wimbledon final into a procession as tearful seventh seed Cilic, battling his nerves and a bloody blister, suffered a torrid afternoon.
Federer described Cilic's predicament as "cruel" after ending his torment with an ace after one hour 41 minutes - but there was no hint of sympathy as, 23 days before his 36th birthday, he became the oldest Wimbledon men's singles champion.
That attitude from the third seed, who last triumphed at the All England Club five years ago, was not surprising since Federer's dream of title number eight had been shattered by Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.
His take on Cilic's injury spoke volumes for the killer instinct that has earned him a record-extending 19 Majors and taken him past American Pete Sampras's record of seven men's singles titles at Wimbledon in the modern era.
"I couldn't tell what it was," Federer said. "But if I saw him limping around, or if I saw him pull up hurt, I would start to think, maybe I'll throw in a dropshot to really check him out, then one more, because that's what you do.
"You need to hurt him where it hurts already."
It was not really necessary as Federer enjoyed one of his easiest title victories.
His latest milestone continued a remarkable resurgence for Federer, who took six months off last year before returning to win the Australian Open - ending a five-year wait for an 18th Grand Slam many thought would remain elusive.
"I've got to take more time off, I don't know! I'll be gone again for the next six months if it keeps working out this fantastic when I come back! Winning today is just about being healthy.
"It feels great, holding the trophy now and the tournament I've played not dropping a set is magical. It's too much, really," said Federer, whose family has doubled with the addition of twins Leo and Lennart to go with twin girls Myla Rose and Charlene Riva since his 2012 title - all of whom were watching on Sunday.
"It is very special. Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament, will always be my favourite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds here.
"I guess again it's just the belief to achieve such heights. I wasn't sure if I was going to be here again after last year.
"I've had some tough finals. I always believed I could come back here again. I kept believing and dreaming and here I am today," Federer said.
The champion praised his opponent as well. "Cilic fought well, he's a hero. Congratulations on an incredible tournament. You should be very proud to play in these finals. Sometimes you don't always feel great in the finals. I hope we can play down the road in some better ones," Federer said.
Cilic said he had been suffering from a blister in his foot during the showpiece clash.
The Croatian seventh seed was distraught after going 0-3 behind in the second set, sitting on his chair in tears. He received a medical timeout at the end of the second set.
"It was definitely one of the unfortunate days for me for this to happen. I had a really bad blister and fluid came down into the callus," the 28-year-old said, noting that he had felt the injury during his semi-final with Sam Querrey.
"It was tough emotionally because I know how much went into the preparation in the past few months. It was really bad luck, but I wanted to give my best and try as much as I could.
"But it was tough when you are in that situation because you know there is not much chance to win."
The Croat said that physiotherapists had done all they could to help him recover for the final.
"They helped. The last 30 hours, they were just constantly almost with me. They did as much as they could, but unfortunately I still felt the pain," he said.
"Every time I had to do a reaction fast, fast change of movement, I was unable to do that," he added.
Cilic said his tears were not as a direct result of the pain but were an emotional response to the situation he found himself in during his biggest game at the All England Club.
"It was just a feeling that I knew that I cannot give my best on the court, that I cannot give my best game and my best tennis, especially at this stage of my career, at such a big match.
"It was very, very difficult to deal with it. You know, that was the only thing. But otherwise, you know, it didn't hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn't able to give the best," he said.
The Croat said that the blister had impacted on his ability to concentrate on the task of trying to beat Federer.
"It was actually very difficult to focus on the match, as well, as my mind was all the time blocked with the pain. It was tough for me to focus on the tactics, on the things that I needed to do.
"I wasn't serving very good today because of that. Also, you know, I was just not able to set up properly on the balls. It was very, very tough to deal with it," he said.
Meanwhile, Martina Hingis marked the 20th anniversary of her sole Wimbledon singles crown by teaming up with Britain's Jamie Murray to win the mixed doubles title.
Hingis and Murray delighted the Centre Court crowd with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over reigning champions Heather Watson of Britain and Finland's Henri Kontinen.
Hingis has now won six major mixed doubles titles as well as 12 in women's doubles - not to mention her five in singles.
Murray won the mixed title 10 years ago with Serbian player Jelena Jankovic.
He only paired up with Hingis on the eve of the tournament after she sent him a text inviting him to play with her.