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Roger Federer wins historic French Open final


 

Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:34

At last. Roger Federer is the 2009 French Open champion, completing his career slam and leaving him on a par with Pete Sampras as the winner or 14 Grand Slam titles, after a 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4 victory against the tournament’s surprise package, Robin Soderling.

Photos from the final

Federer joins the elite group of Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi – who handed him the trophy – as the only men to clinch all four major titles.

On a damp day in Paris, the Swiss raced from the blocks at the start of the match, producing arguably his finest set of tennis in three years at Roland Garros to shut Soderling out 6-1 as the Swede struggled with the occasion.

“It might be the greatest victory of my career. It takes away so much pressure – now I can play in peace” – Federer

The Swede had every right to be nervous, playing in his first Grand Slam final against an opponent he has never come close to beating, having only claimed one set in their previous nine encounters. But in truth there was little he could do against Federer’s start to the match, moving around the court with supreme confidence.

Soderling emerged more composed at the start of the second set, winning his first service game. But it was less the Swede’s resurgence than the actions of a intruder, who climbed through the photographer’s pit and onto Federer’s side of the court and attempted to drape Federer in a Spanish flag during game four.

Federer backed away toward the back of the court before the fan caught up with him. Security personnel seemed slow to react before chasing the man to the other side of the court, where he was tackled and carried out.

There was silence from the stunned crowd, then chants of “Ro-ger, Ro-ger” as the episode ended. Federer adjusted his headband, Soderling gave him a thumbs-up to check he was okay, and play resumed.

The incident clearly rattled Federer, who dropped the game to love. From there the set went with serve until the tie-break, when Federer, who had threatened to break Soderling in game twelve, resumed his dominance with four aces to race to a two-set lead.

When the Swiss broke in the first game of the third set, the match looked set to become a foregone conclusion as Soderling, who had not yet reached break point on the Federer serve, struggled to find a solution to turn the situation around.

But with the match approaching its conclusion, Federer briefly stumbled, shanking a drive volley to gift Soderling a break point when serving for the title. It was to prove a mere blip, as three points later, on his first championship point, Soderling netted a service return. The Swiss fell to his knee in tears, triggering a deafening roar from the 15,000 crowd.

“It was really not easy to deal with my emotions,” said the 27-year-old Federer, who lost to Rafael Nadal in each of the three previous finals. “It might be the greatest victory of my career. It takes away so much pressure. Now, I can play in peace.

“Nobody will never tell me again that I have not won Roland Garros,” he added. “It’s nice to be up here on the podium as a winner this time.”

“I would like to congratulate you Robin on an incredible tournament, you beat so many wonderful players on the way. I hope you can keep it up for many years to come. All the best and congratulations.”

Soderling was thrilled just to have reached the final and found time to issue a light-hearted warning to his rival after his defeat.

“You know you beat me nine times in a row before this match, we were joking nobody can beat me ten times in a row,” he said. “We were wrong. But next time we play… nobody can beat me eleven times in a row, I promise you!”

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