This column wraps up Jane Voigt's daily coverage of the French Open. We presently expect to return with editorial-only coverage of Wimbledon. Then our full photo coverage will resume with the US Open series, likely covering The Rogers Cup, Cincy W&SFG Masters, LA Tennis Open, Legg Mason, Pilot Pen, and the US Open.
Federer Makes History Winning French Title
June 7, 2009 -- Roger Federer might have been the coolest man inside Court Chatrier today in Paris -- at least until he won the men's singles championship. Then he let go with tears of joy and relief, as he staked claim to his place in history by defeating Robin Soderling 61 76 (1) 64 to win his 14th Grand Slam title and a career Grand Slam. He now joins Pete Sampras as having the highest number of major titles in tennis history.
A week ago today, Robin Soderling defeated the man who a majority of people thought would win the 2009 men's singles championship: Rafael Nadal. Soderling backed up that win with confidence and conviction, as he made his way to his first-ever Grand Slam final. Soderling is the only Swedish player in the top 200 of the ATP rankings. On hand to watch his match was his new coach Magnus Norman, his parents and wife, along with six-time French Open champion Bjorn Borg. With his second-place win today, Soderling will move to within one or two spots of the top ten.
Federer and Soderling played in cool and damp conditions, with gusts of wind strong enough to turn a couple of umbrellas inside out. A steady drizzle of rain went almost unnoticed by the players and fans, as history unfolded.
Federer came out of the blocks on fire, breaking Soderling in his first service game at love. The Swiss maestro pressured Soderling's serve as soon as he sensed nervous energy coming across the net. The first set was over in twenty-three minutes. Federer broke three times and lost one point on his serve, thus stepping ever closer to his eventual victory.
The French fans were on hand for one purpose -- to see Roger Federer win the trophy that has eluded him for the past three years when he lost to Rafael Nadal. Between sets, fans chanted "Roger," "Roger," as they didn't want to witness any other outcome.
Soderling's game improved in the second set, as he kept up with Federer until the tiebreak. Then Federer revealed his intense desire for victory, winning the tiebreak 7-1 with four aces, a cross-court forehand winner, and a drop shot. There was little doubt he was in charge of this championship final.
"Every time I played Roger, after the match I always said, I played so badly," Soderling said in is press conference. "Now I learned that it's not that I played bad, he makes me play bad. I think I didn't play aggressive enough."
Federer broke Soderling in the first game of the third, and final, set. He held his serve to secure the lead. As the set progressed, Federer accelerated his performance. He dazzled the crowds with a full assortment of graceful groundstrokes, volleys and drop shots, as rallies were extended and Soderling pressed Roger to come up with more. However, he was assured, dominant, and full of pride. He sensed the finish line. All he had to do was stay as cool as he'd been prior to this upcoming moment that waited, arms open, beckoning him to take that final step into history.
Federer then served for the championship, but not without a heart-skipping glitch. Soderling went up his second break point, threatening to spoil the party. Given his amazing comeback in the semifinals against Fernando Gonzalez, where he was down 1-4 in the fifth set and then ran off the last five games to win, any slip by Federer could have opened the door for the chance of a non-storybook ending to the day.
But, the mighty Roger Federer saved the break point. The rest is history. Sports history and tennis history.
"I never played anyone playing that fast," Robin commented. "He's a great player. He doesn't have any weaknesses at all. He really deserve to be called the best player of all time, I think."
The last player to have won a career Grand Slam -- Andre Agassi -- was on the podium to present the trophy. As Federer approached the American legend, Agassi leaned in and said to him, "I'm so happy for you man."
Those words must have been music to Roger's ears, as he grasped Le Coupe Des Mousquetaires and hoisted it high above his headÉ the one trophy that had been missing from his case was finally his.
Federer served sixteen aces over the three sets of the match. He was 85% on points won off his first serves and 67% on second service points won. For an occasion that held such potential for the game and this amazing tennis player, these stats far exceed anything expected or necessary. Federer's first serve percentage is normally around 50%. If he maintains that, he can dominate a match. Today it was 66%.
With The Wimbledon Championships scheduled to begin June 22, the story is left unscripted. But the looming question lurks: Can Roger Federer win a 15th Grand Slam, thus breaking all major records?
With Rafael Nadal unable to defend his title next week at The Aegon Championships at London's Queens Club due to continuing knee problems, and his entrance into Wimbledon somewhat a question, the record book remains blank.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Nadal will work on his physical condition, in hopes of playing Wimbledon. The Spanish star's uncle and coach Toni Nodal sounded less optimistic, saying that his entrance into Wimbledon is 'up in the air for the moment.'
Earlier Columns from this Event:
June 6, 2009 French Open Coverage: Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins Singles Championship
June 5, 2009 French Open Coverage: Roger and Robin To Play French Final
June 4, 2009 French Open Coverage: The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
June 3, 2009 French Open Coverage: As The Clay Settles
June 2, 2009 French Open Coverage: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming
June 1, 2009 French Open Coverage: The Vacuum Left by Nadal
May 31, 2009 French Open Coverage: Both Defending Champs Out At French Open
May 30, 2009 French Open Coverage: Draw Opens as Djokovic Falls In Three
May 29, 2009 French Open Coverage: What's Up With All That Noise!
May 28, 2009 French Open Coverage: The Shifting Clay of Roland Garros
May 27, 2009 French Open Coverage: The Heart of a Champion
May 26, 2009 French Open Coverage: American Women in Paris
May 25, 2009 French Open Coverage: Sharapova Fights On, Nadal and Federer Cruise
May 24, 2009 French Open Coverage: Bienvenue au Paris