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Fait Accompli: Federer Solidifies Place In History With First French Open Title

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Fait Accompli: Federer Solidifies Place In History With First French Open Title


img_0441-version-2For three years, Roger Federer has been a bridesmaid at the French Open. Today, at last, Federer vanquished Swede Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to seize his first ‘Coupe Des Mousquetaires’ and complete the career grand slam. Federer becomes just the sixth male player to possess all four majors.

Federer got off to an idyllic start by pressuring Soderling’s serve. With a forehand up the line error by Soderling, Federer had break point and cashed in courtesy of a double fault. After consolidating with a love game, Federer extended his lead by connecting on a forehand return winner for 3-0. After Soderling held serve in a tight game, he was unable to get a point in Federer’s game. Then, Soderling watched the first set end when Federer cranked a backhand crosscourt pass to break again.

In the second set, the caliber of Soderling’s play improved with a higher percentage of first serves and more forehand winners. With Soderling serving at 15-0, a deranged spectator leapt on court and accosted Federer, waving a Barcelona flag in his face. This frightening incident was terminated when security personnel tackled the intruder. Fortunately, after Robin won his game, Federer refocused and comfortably held for 3-2. With neither man able to dent the other’s serve, the set went to a tiebreaker. With an ace and by forcing Soderling into a forehand error, Federer went ahead 2-1. Soderling never touched Federer’s serve. With three additional aces, a backhand down the line error by Soderling and a forehand drop shot winner, Federer carried the set.

A double fault offered Federer his first opportunity to take charge in the third. Roger capitalized when Robin missed a forehand up the line. With his serve on autopilot, Federer went up 2-0. A hiccup came when serving at 2-1, Federer miscalculated a forehand up the line handing Soderling his first break chance. However, with a forehand down the line winner, Roger wiped out his previous error and held for 3-1. Once Federer extended his advantage to 5-3, tears began to creep into his eyes. Federer realized that he was four points from securing the only major trophy that had escaped him. After Soderling guarded serve, Federer misfired on a forehand mid-court to donate a break point. However, with a good serve and a forehand error from Robin, Roger was back on track. Subsequently, with a forehand volley winner, Federer finally arrived at match point and sealed the championship when Soderling’s return found the net.

This was an unpredictable French Open. Soderling’s run to his maiden major final was surreal. In the round of 16, Soderling beat Rafael Nadal, Federer’s hindrance at the French the ultimate four years. In so doing, the Swede prohibited Nadal from surpassing countryman Bjorn Borg’s record of four successive French Open titles. Strangely, Bjorn had Nadal to thank last year for preventing Federer from overtaking his record of five consecutive trophies at Wimbledon. Moreover, Soderling’s road kill list included David Ferrer in the third round, Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters and Fernando Gonzalez in the semis, all formidable clay court players.  Also, unlike prior years, Federer’s path was fraught with peril. Roger needed four sets in both second and third round against Jose Acasuso and Paul-Henri Mathieu, respectively. Further, Federer was possibly one forehand miscue from losing to Tommy Haas in the round of 16. Then, world number five Juan Martin Del Potro pushed Federer to five sets in the semifinals.

Post match, Soderling acknowledged he had a tough time since Federer did not permit him to be ‘aggressive’. Soderling felt his task was impossible because ‘Roger makes [one] play bad’. Federer confessed that ‘it was an emotional roller coaster’, citing he was nervous and his mind kept wandering. The question ‘what if I win this tournament’ continuously popped in his head, adding to his anxiety particularly when serving out the match. Federer claimed that along with his first Wimbledon, undoubtedly, this was his most satisfying win. Now, Federer has equaled Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors. More importantly, unlike Pete, Federer has a French Open title on his resume.

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Spain Gets The Gold While Argentina Takes Silver in Davis Cup


Argentina’s chances of winning its first Davis Cup trophy in its third appearance were lofty. Firstly, it had home field advantage. Secondly, the surface selected was hardcourt. Moreover, with world number one Rafael Nadal unable to make the trip due to tendonitis, Argentina seemed blessed. But Spain showed that it is far from being a one trick pony. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco defeated Argentine Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the fourth rubber to take the title leaving thousands of boisterous Argentine fans stupefied.

In Friday’s first rubber, Argentina got off to a flying start. David Nalbandian faced Spaniard David Ferrer with the former proving to be Goliath. As usual, Nalbandian’s backhand was sublime. More impressively, his forehand was solid. He even came up with highlight reel volleys. Nalbandian prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to give Argentina a leg up. Argentina maintained the momentum through the first set in the second rubber as world number 9 Juan Martin Del Potro squared off against Feliciano Lopez. Courtesy of one service break, Del Potro carried the first set. However, Lopez no longer feeling generous cleaned up his game and pushed the second set to a tiebreak which the Spaniard easily won. With neither player making inroads on the other’s serve, the third set also went to a tiebreak. Lopez recovered from a minibreak disadvantage to take the third. In the fourth set, after Lopez jumped out to an early lead with a break, Del Potro quickly effaced that advantage. Unfortunately, Del Potro sustained a right groin injury and despite medical treatment was unable to recover. His next service game, Del Potro went down love-40, and then double faulted to get back in a hole. Ultimately, Lopez beat the young Argentine 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.

Saturday in the doubles, Argentine Agustin Calleri and Nalbandian took on Verdasco and Lopez. Argentina debuted well, needing a single break to take the first set. In the second, as Calleri served to force a tiebreak, he made some key unforced errors to help Spain carry the set. After stepping on the gas to get a 5-1 lead in the third, Spain sputtered. Argentina forced a tiebreak and was just two points from leading two sets to one. Spain battled back to prevent the home team from stealing the third set. In the fourth set, Spain pulled away as a stunned Argentine public looked on 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.

The feature match on Sunday was Acasuso versus Verdasco. Argentina was attempting to defy history since the last team to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the finals was Germany in 1990. Argentina’s was hopeful that despite not having played for months, Acasuso would force a decisive fifth rubber. After a sloppy first set by the Argentine which went in Verdasco’s favor, Acasuso capitalized on errors by the Spaniard to get ahead 4-1. But with multiple unforced backhand errors, Acasuso relinquished his lead. After a seesaw of breaks, the second went to a tiebreak which Argentina finally secured. In the third set, Acasuso tracked down an overhead from Verdasco and made a forehand winner for love-30. Then, a Verdasco double fault gifted Argentina the early break. Swiftly though, Acasuso returned the favor by double faulting to level the set. This back and forth pattern persisted until the tenth game when Acasuso finally consolidated a break to end the set. By picking on Acasuso’s weak backhand, Verdasco dominated the fourth and forced a conclusive fifth set. With three unforced errors, Acasuso faced love-40 in the opening game; Verdasco captured the break when the Argentine netted a makeable forehand. To aggravate matters, Acasuso suffered an abdominal strain. As the errors rained from the Argentine side, Verdasco took control of the fifth set and on the third break chance produced a forehand down the line for winner to cinch the title for Spain, the third this decade.

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