Many of us chuckled if not broke out in wondrous amusement a few months ago when Roger Federer declared after a racquet-smashing loss to Novak Djokovic: “thank God the hardcourt season is over”. Well, who’s laughing now?
Federer did what many of us thought he could no longer do: Win the French Open.
Earlier today the flawless Federer ripped Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 in just under two hours to claim his first French Open title and Grand Slam No. 14, matching him with tennis great Pete Sampras for the all-time mark in that measure.
The 27-year-old Federer was on his game right from the very start. Despite the on/off rain and wind from Mother Nature and the scary, heart-stopping appearance from a crazed fan on the court, Federer kept his focus on the match and on the history books and he did it.
Federer becomes the sixth player to in history hold the career Grand Slam, following in the legendary footsteps of Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Fred Perry.
Soderling, who scored the upset of the tournament if not of the Open Era, with his stunning victory over Rafael Nadal last Sunday, had nothing left for Federer seven days later.
Perhaps just overwhelmed by the moment or feeling the physical fatigue of reaching his first career Slam final, the Swede looked slow-footed and unsure from the start, as Federer broke early then raced away with the first set 6-1.
Soderling settled down in the second and began to find his mark. Both players overcame a frightening moment when nutjob fan ran onto the court and went after after Federer in the fourth game. The set wound down in a tiebreak which Federer literally aced, 7-2.
Federer again jumped out ahead in third set breaking Soderling in the opening game, and from there it was all but curtains. After a saving a break point while in nervy 10th game, Federer fell to ground and broke down in tears as Soderling sent a service return into the bottom of the net. Game, set, match, Federer. The new French Open champion.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Federer said to NBC’s John McEnroe after the match. “It’s the most satisfying victory of my life, next to my first Wimbledon.
“There was so much pressure involved and after so many years trying win this title, it’s great,” Federer said. “There’s an unbelievable release of pressure right now, and that’s why I’m smiling.”
For the married man, the expectant father, the chase is over. Greatness realized.
So what’s the win for Federer mean? For now, everything.
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