The Swiss superstar swept into a 3-0 lead in the second set and at the changeover, Cilic slumped in his courtside chair in tears and in obvious pain.
Perfection has a time limit for most mortals, but not so it seems with Roger Federer.
"My head is ringing", Federer said on Monday after savouring his 6-3 6-1 6-4 finals defeat of Marin Cilic. "Fluid just came down under my callous in the foot", Cilic said. "Every time I had to do a reaction fast - fast change of movement - I was unable to do that". I feel the gap's too big. "We tried to take some fluid out overnight, and yesterday in the morning it was worse". After all, it was a dream date for her, and she couldn't help but make the most of it.
Those berths are now filled by Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka, Wimbledon runner-up Marin Cilic, Alex Zverev, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Federer's placement is his highest since he was No. 3 in August 2016, at the start of his half-year hiatus from the tour.
"It was a mix of emotions". How I'm managing tougher situations. I knew that it's going to be hard. "It's just actually fighting it through".
Cilic wept inconsolably on Centre Court midway through the second set after calling for medical attention on a nasty blister on his left foot.More news: Gwendoline Christie stuns Game of Thrones premiere
He attended the traditional champions' dinner with women's victor Garbine Muguruza, although the pair didn't dance as Federer said: "when there's no music whatsoever, it's hard to get going". "I don't know if it will work as well again".
"It was actually very hard 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".
Roger Federer won a record eighth Wimbledon singles title. "Winning two is already pretty insane and plenty good enough for me".
Federer's journey is even more remarkable as the 35-year-old was coming off a six-month break after winning the Australian Open earlier this year.
She had supported the tennis legend during his men's final against Cilic because she preferred dancing with him on the night.
The injury, though, made Sunday's match a veritable walkover. But instead of focusing on defending champ Ivo Karlovic and two-time former champs John Isner and Rajeev Ram, the headliners, let's look ahead to, say, 2025, when the greatest player of all time could take his place among the other greats of the game. "But unfortunately it was not meant to be. We had a good time".
The dance between the two champions used to be a tradition but has become a lapsed one in recent years. "I guess it's a bar", Federer said.