Tag Archive | "Sampras"

Federer Welcomes a Seventh Wimbledon Crown

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Federer Welcomes a Seventh Wimbledon Crown



If the axiom “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” rings true, Roger Federer is a credit to his idol Pete Sampras. In the final at The Championships, Federer broke the heart of millions of Brits who have been waiting seventy six years to witness one of their own lift the trophy. Federer prevailed over Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 for a seventh Wimbledon title, tying Sampras’ record.

With Rafael Nadal, his obstacle the last two years in the semifinals, knocked out in the second round, Murray seized the occasion. By vanquishing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis, Murray became the first Brit since Henry Austin in 1938 to advance to the final at the All England Club.
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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field


For the first time at the All England Club, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds. Defending champion Nadal will fight to collect his third hardware at this venue and his third French Open-Wimbledon combo. Djokovic who registered his maiden loss of the year at the previous major after a forty-one match unbeaten run will attempt to reach his first final at SW 19.

Two other competitors are also hoping to make history. Third seed Roger Federer tries to equalize Pete Sampras’ all time record of seven titles while fourth seed Andy Murray carries the aspirations of an isle on his shoulders. This fortnight, Murray aims to terminate his nation’s 75 year drought at its home major. Here’s the breakdown of the 2011 Wimbledon draw.

For world number one Nadal, it should be smooth sailing until the third round. In that session, the defending champion could be bothered by phenom Milos Raonic. Again in the round of 16, Nadal will be on crash alert with Juan Martin Del Potro his likely opponent. Consequently, there are various rocks along the road early on for the top seed.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal could face a rematch of last year’s final with Tomas Berdych. Considering Berdych’s average performance this season, the Spaniard should have the advantage. However, a semifinal against either Andy Roddick, a three time finalist, or Murray will be a harder challenge.

Having won the Queen’s Club trophy for the second time, Murray has once more found his mojo. Murray’s potential third round counterpart is Marin Cilic and either Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. While these are all worthy adversaries, Murray should have the upper hand.

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final



Novak Djokovic kept his winning streak and perfect season alive today. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to win his second title in Miami and his fourth consecutive of the season.

It was the second week in a row that Nadal and Djokovic, world number one and two respectively, were meeting in a Masters 1000 final. The last time the top two players clashed for the title at this tournament in1995, number two Andre Agassi beat number one Pete Sampras in a third set tiebreaker.

With a backhand up the line pass for a winner on his second break point opportunity, Nadal obtained a 2-1 advantage. It was the first time, Djokovic had dropped serve this tournament.

After going down double break point, Nadal found the equalizer. The Spaniard survived another break point before consolidating for 3-1.

Then, Nadal captured a second break for 4-1. The Spaniard salvaged another break point before widening his lead to 5-1. Nadal dropped serve trying to close out the set the first time around. But, despite difficulties, on his second attempt Nadal banked the set.

After wasting multiple break points in the initial set, Djokovic aided by errors from Nadal seized the break for 2-0 in the second. Subsequent to wiping out a break point, Djokovic consolidated for 3-0 when Nadal’s slice backhand found the net.

Djokovic pressured Nadal on serve while having an easier time himself. At 40-0, Djokovic sent a beautiful lob for a winner to stretch his gap to 4-1. Ultimately, with an ace on triple set point, Djokovic threw the gauntlet for a deciding set.

The opening game of the third, Nadal overcame love-30 to hold. Serving at 1-2, Djokovic battled a similar predicament and got to 2 all. As the set progressed, despite a few 15-30 or 0-30 games, neither manufactured a break point. Fittingly, the championship was settled by a tiebreaker.

The first four points of the tiebreaker, neither competitor maintained serve. When Nadal double faulted, Djokovic had a mini-break at 3-2. With Nadal’s next two strokes sailing wide, Djokovic had a 5-2 cushion.

Following, Djokovic struck a forehand winner down the line for 6-2 and four championship points. Although Nadal won the next two points, on his third opportunity, Djokovic connected on forehand winner to pocket the trophy.

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch


Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic faced each other at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night for the first time since their epic semi-final at Wimbledon in 2001. Ivanisevic broke the hearts of the British public by beating Henman in a thrilling five set match spread across three days due to the unpredictable British weather.

I clearly remember listening to the commentary secretly during lessons at my school in North London on my vintage Sony Walkman, nerves on edge.  Arguably, this was Henman’s most promising opportunity to be the first British man since Fred Perry to lift the Wimbledon crown.   With a certain American, Pete Sampras, knocked out in the fourth round by none other than recent ATP Tour Finals champion, Roger Federer, the path seemed clear or so we thought.

However, the stars were shining favourably on the charismatic Croat, who famously ate at the same table at the same restaurant every night during the Wimbledon fortnight.   En route to his well deserved Wimbledon title, the pinnacle of any professional tennis player’s career, Ivanisevic won back the heart of the British crowd in his fairytale win against Aussie, Pat Rafter.  Ranked world number 125 due to a recurring shoulder injury, Ivanisevic reached the final as a wild card entry and previously had three tough Wimbledon final losses to Andre Agassi in 1992 and Pete Sampras in 1994 and 1998.

He famously said to reporters: “If some angel comes tonight in my dreams and says: ‘OK Goran, you’re going to win Wimbledon tomorrow, but you’re not able to touch the racket ever again,’ I will say: ‘OK, I’d rather take that and then never play tennis again in my life.’”

Yet, the changeable Croat with dual personalities is back.  And what a comeback it has been for the 39-year-old.   A regular on the seniors tour, Ivanisevic has won two titles in Barcelona and Knokke this season and recorded his fastest ever serve this year. He was one of the many players who encouraged Henman out of retirement to join legends such as Stefen Edberg, John McEnroe and Britain’s own, Greg Rusedski on the ATP Champions Tour in a more jovial yet competitive atmosphere.

“I saw him at the World Tour Finals in London last year and I told him he should come back and play with us,” Ivanisevic said of Henman. “He’s a great tennis player and we miss players like him.”

The players certainly didn’t disappoint the animated crowd last night. In fact, with the pressure off, they produced an outstanding level of tennis, with Ivanisevic serving as well as I’d ever witnessed, winning the first set 6-4. Indeed, Henman said in the post match press conference that no one had ever served as well against him in his entire career in that first set.  Heady praise for the Croat who revealed he is serving faster than ever before with the “new technology” of rackets these days.

With “good” Goran serving on all cylinders, this could have been a baptism of fire on the fast indoor court for Henman, only in his second match out of retirement. But, the Brit held his nerve well and showed many glimpses of his former glory, with great net play and feel around the court, winning the second set 7-5 and bringing the match to an exciting deciding Championship tiebreak.

Despite the hecklings of the old Tim faithful, Goran served his way to the match with an 11-9 victory in the Champions’ Tie-Break, looking impressively sharp on his backhand returns too.

Both looked exhilarated and liberated by the atmosphere of the ATP Champions Tour, particularly in the historic setting of London’s Royal Albert Hall. In the post match press conference Henman revealed his “body felt good” and was pleased with the “good quality of tennis out there.”  Similarly, Goran was beaming as he said “today I felt great” and emphasized how much he is enjoying his tennis without the mental pressure of the tour.  To my question of whether he still enjoyed playing up to his loveable villain reputation, he laughed and said:  “People have always called me so many things. I don’t mind.”

Well, last night Goran, you were quite simply brilliant.

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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Roger Federer Beats Rafael Nadal for His Fifth ATP World Tour Finals Title

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Roger Federer Beats Rafael Nadal for His Fifth ATP World Tour Finals Title


Today, Roger Federer claimed his fifth year-end ATP finals title with a superlative performance over a defiant, but defeated world number one, Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

In the 22nd meeting of an illustrious rivalry that will leave a great legacy for the game for years to come, Nadal and Federer captivated audiences world-wide with a final that sparkled with explosive shot making, drama and as many twists and turns as a Shakespeare play.

The world number one and two are polar opposites with one thing in common; an extraordinary will to win. While many began to question Federer’s mental strength following his failure to capitalize on two match points against an often mentally fragile Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the US Open earlier in the year, Federer seemed to have shrugged off any niggling doubts of his own authority in matches in the run up to the final.

Questions have also been raised about Nadal’s physical problems.  A shoulder injury in his serving arm caused Nadal to take a five week break before the ATP Finals and his recurring knee problems are always a concern.  Many wondered how Nadal’s body would cope after a grueling three set match against Britain’s Andy Murray in the semi-finals.   The tennis world waited with baited breath to see how the latest act in tennis’ greatest rivalry since Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras would play out.

In the opening set, Nadal described Federer as “unplayable” and it was evident from the outset that the Swiss Maestro was back to his absolute best. The players went tactically toe to toe until the seventh game when Nadal’s continued tactic of playing to Federer’s backhand backfired spectacularly.  With a superb cross court winner from that wing, Federer gained the break of serve.  Then, the former world number one closed out the first set 6-3 with a forehand winner in just 32 minutes.

But, with a dramatic swing of momentum, like an incensed lion released from its cage, Nadal characteristically pounced on Federer’s drop in form in the second set.  By switching tactics, Nadal secured a break of serve in the fourth game through working the Federer forehand with spectacular success. Federer took a tumble in the fifth game following an unkind net cord for Nadal and so did his form, allowing the Spaniard to pull ahead with a comfortable 4-1 lead.

The remainder of the second set went with serve.  Nadal held his nerve after losing the first point when serving out the set at 5-3 by finishing Federer off with a wonderfully executed backhand slice right at the master’s feet. Game on.

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Don’t Put a Fork in Federer, He’s Not Done Yet

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Don’t Put a Fork in Federer, He’s Not Done Yet


In the last two years, Roger Federer’s tennis obituary has been written more than once.  In fact, the notion of the great one’s eminent demise has crossed this writer’s mind on a few occasions only to be refuted.  Since his victory in Melbourne, Federer has hit a speed bump from which he has yet to recover.  Thus, rumors again are rampid as to the Swiss genius being put out to pasture.  Unequivocally, the fear factor which Federer previously instilled in his opponents pre-match has waned.  Yet, to deduce that his career is at its conclusion is a tad premature.

Tennis followers are accustomed to Federer being a sure thing especially at the majors.  With a total of 32 titles from 2004 thru 2007 and double digit trophies three of those years, Federer has been brilliance personified.  In 2004, the stellar Swiss was perfect in finals, 11-0.  Moreover, three of the fore mentioned years, Federer prevailed at three of the four majors.  During that four year span, the ‘Federer Express’ was detained only twenty three times and relinquished at the most matches eight matches in a single season.

Even at his peak, Pete Sampras garnered double figure titles, 10, only one time in 1994 and obtained maximally two majors in a calendar year.  Arguably, 2008 was the best year to date for Federer’s archrival, Rafael Nadal.  Along with Olympics gold, the Spaniard claimed two majors in that cycle.  Considering Federer is almost 29 and Nadal 24 with his best years probably ahead of him, the comparison may be somewhat distorted.  Yet, this underscores further the reason that fans expect excellence from Federer.

Before 2008, with the exception of Nadal, Federer vanquished a lot of his competitors in the locker room.  It was the 2008 Australian Open semifinals which marked Federer’s transition to the land of mortals.  With Novak Djokovic halting Federer at that stage, it signaled to other adversaries that they had a prayer.  Although Federer’s languid movement, which could be ascribed to mononucleosis, contributed largely to his defeat.  The illness exposed a layer of vulnerability from which Federer had difficulty recovering the remainder of the year.  In some respects, this year seems a flashback to 2008 with the express difference that Federer’s counterparts are upstaging him even earlier at the majors; something unseen previously.

Why the transformation?  Confidence.  While Robin Soderling’s victory over Federer at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi this past February may have been categorized by some as insignificant.  In hindsight, it proved not to be trivial. That win cultivated in Soderling belief for their next meeting.  A few weeks ago at the French Open, Soderling had his initial triumph over Federer after 13 attempts.  Moreover, the encounter was historic as Soderling terminated Federer’s extraordinary streak of major semifinals at 23.

Another example is Tomas Berdych.  After eight successive takedowns by Federer, the mentally fragile Berdych bested his nemesis in Miami this year.  Then, in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, Berdych went on to replicate that feat.  Later, at the post match press conference, Federer revealed that a stiff back and a leg injury which first surfaced in Halle were in part to blame for his failure.

Indeed, there were echoes of Australia 2008 at Wimbledon this year.  Federer just seemed a step slower than his opponent.  Seldom would one associate the word mediocre with a Federer stroke, but it crept up to mind in watching his backhand.  Moreover, the sting had slipped off  the forehand side.  Consequently, the rest of Federer’s game could not coalesce.  In spite of the injuries, considering the result in Paris, the question lingers whether with a fully fit Federer, the outcome would have altered. Following the French Open, Federer’s ranking dropped to number two.  After Wimbledon, it dipped to number three, his lowest since November of 2003.

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Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer

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Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer


As the defending Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer has been given the top seed despite relinquishing the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal earlier this month.  Federer will attempt to capture his seventh crown to equalize Pete Sampras’ record at the All England Club. After injury prevented him from defending his 2008 title, a salubrious Nadal is seeking his second back to back French Open and Wimbledon trophies.  However, each man’s section is filled with rivals capable of tripping him prior to the finals.  Here’s a look at the draw.

After his historic string of consecutive semifinals was broken at the French Open, Federer had his tight grip on the title in Halle loosen by Lleyton Hewitt. Since prevailing in Australia, Federer has fallen to multiple adversaries whom he has owned and has yet to claim another title.  In light of Federer’s vulnerability, it’s perhaps Andy Roddick’s opportunity to avenge his three previous Wimbledon final defeats by knocking Federer out in the semifinals.  Beforehand though, Federer could have stiff competition in the round of 16 from French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer and in the quarterfinals from either Thomas Berdych or Nikolay Davydenko.  But, with the latter just rejoining the tour after nursing an injury for several months, he may be less of a factor.

Roddick may have some trouble of his own to contend with.  The American could see Marin Cilic or Phillip Kohlschreiber in the round of 16.  Kohlschreiber, the 29th seed, has taken down a few big names in his career which makes him dangerous.  In the quarterfinals, Roddick is projected to meet Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic has a tricky first round match against Oliver Rochus to whom he loss in Miami.  In addition, Djokovic has a potential fourth round encounter with Hewitt.  Djokovic’s game has been suffering of late which means that Hewitt has a good shot at reaching the quarterfinals in which case Roddick would be the outright favorite.

In the bottom half of the draw, Nadal could battle big server John Isner in the fourth round.  Isner has a game which translates well to grass and could bother the Spaniard. Then, the world number one has a possible clash with French Open finalist Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals.  Considering their contentious five set, two day third round encounter in 2007 and with the evolution of Soderling’s game if these two collide, it will be an intriguing match.

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Nadal Recoups Title at Roland Garros

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Nadal Recoups Title at Roland Garros


With an unbeaten record and a historic three Masters clay titles leading up to Paris, victory seemed a mere formality for Rafael Nadal at the French Open.  Still, with Robin Soderling, the only rival to defeat Nadal at that venue as his finals’ opponent, an interesting twist was added to the plot.  Irrespective of the challenger, Nadal demonstrated that he is the master on this surface.  The Spaniard triumphed 6-4,6-2,6-4 to claim his fifth “Coupe des Mousquetaries” and recapture the number one ranking.

Soderling commenced the first set with a couple of unfettered games. Then, with a forehand down the line error by Nadal had break point. However, Nadal got to deuce when Soderling’s backhand traveled out of play. With Soderling donating two forehand mistakes, Nadal equalized the set at 2 all.  Promptly, when Soderling made another forehand error, Nadal had his initial break point.  Despite Soderling dismissing one, Nadal obtained a second and capitalized with a backhand crosscourt pass for winner.  Quickly, Nadal consolidated to widen his advantage to 4-2.  In the next game, Soderling double faulted on game point resulting in deuce and later gave Nadal two additional opportunities to break. Yet, the Swede maintained his composure to pull off the game and remain one break down. When Nadal himself double faulted, Soderling had break point.  But, on a forehand miscue by Soderling, Nadal rubbed out that previous error.  A second break point came along after Soderling crushed a second serve return and Nadal was unable to deal with the subsequent shot.  Yet, with Soderling gifting another error, Nadal won the point.  Thereafter, Nadal secured the game and eventually seized the set 6-4.

After Soderling’s uncomplicated game to open the second set, on an errant forehand by Nadal, the Swede had double break point. With an ace and a botched backhand by Soderling, Nadal reached deuce.  Soderling manufactured two more opportunities.  Nevertheless, each was snuffed out by Nadal to tie the set at 1.  Soderling short memory helped as he held at love right after.  Nonetheless, Soderling’s next time out, Nadal connected on a couple of winners for triple break point.  When the Swede misfired with the forehand up the line, Nadal broke for 3-2.  Later, with a glut of mistakes, Soderling handed Nadal a double break lead.  The Spaniard easily closed out the set at 6-2.

Unlike last year, for Soderling, the errors far exceeded the winners.  Moreover, the serve, a potent part of Soderling’s game was being neutralized by Nadal’s excellent defense.  Conversely, as the match progressed, Nadal cleaned up his game.  Following an ace for game point, Soderling committed another error for deuce.  With two consecutive forehands flubs by Soderling, Nadal bagged the break to begin the third set.  By charging to net, Soderling forced Nadal to place a backhand pass out of play for his eight break point.  Yet, by netting the backhand return, Soderling was now 0 for 8 on break points.  Eventually, Nadal guarded serve for a 2-0 edge.  The next couple of service games, Soderling comfortably held.  When the Swede double faulted in the seventh game, Nadal had another break point.  Still, Soderling dealt with the pressure and maintained serve for 3-4.  But, Soderling was given no further looks at a break point by Nadal.  As the mistakes flew off Soderling’s racket, Nadal promptly held the rest of the way to take the championship in straight sets.

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Tennis Eminence:  Federer Regains Wimbledon With Record 15th Major

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Tennis Eminence: Federer Regains Wimbledon With Record 15th Major


img_0461The Wimbledon championship was the scene for round 21 of world number two, Swiss Roger Federer, versus world number six, American Andy Roddick. For the second consecutive year, the men’s final had one exhausting superlatives as Federer vanquished Roddick in a five set marathon 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 for his sixth Wimbledon prize and a record setting fifteen majors.

Roddick baptized the match by blasting away on serve and holding for 1-0. Federer, no slouch himself, kept up on serve. After neither neared the other’s serve, at 5 all, Roddick appeared on the verge of cracking. With two inexplicable errors, Roddick faced 0-30. But with two explosive serves, Andy forced Roger to miss. Yet, in the first long rally of the match, 18 strokes, Federer dipped a forehand so low that Roddick made a forehand error giving the Swiss his first break point. Still, with his star stroke, the serve, Roddick escaped. Federer got three more chances; however, Roddick came up with the answers each time and took the lead 6-5. Now, it became conspicuous to Federer that there was a new nuance to Roddick’s game. Although the serves were still coming at ungodly speed, Federer’s customary tactic of blocking them back was futile because of variety and placement. Furthermore, Roddick’s weaker stroke, the backhand, was producing winners either down the line or crosscourt, a novelty to Federer. These developments contributed to Federer slicing a backhand and forehand up the line long to give Roddick break point and subsequently the set.

In the second set, Roddick continued his brilliant play, volleying well from both wings. But, Federer’s shot making ability was also on display as he tracked down a Roddick dropshot and flicked it crosscourt for a backhand winner in a  23 stroke rally to hold for 5 all. No break point on sale by either man, the set went to a tiebreaker. A forehand error by Federer handed Roddick a mini-break for 2-0. Andy got a second mini-break and a 5-1 edge when Federer pushed a backhand down the line long. The Swiss appeared on his way to a two set deficit. Federer saved the first set point with a backhand crosscourt winner on Roddick’s serve. After Federer protected his serve, Roddick missed a backhand volley which leveled the tiebreaker at 6 all. Then, Federer provoked a volley error from Roddick with a low backhand to earn set point which the Swiss converted when the American’s backhand sailed long.

After the previous set’s disappointment, Roddick could have wilted away. To the contrary, with a forehand down the line winner, Roddick salvaged his first service game and carried his second at love. Serving at 2-3, Roddick sliced a backhand long donating to Federer a break point. Yet, with a great body serve, Andy got back on track and eventually rescued the game. With each player’s tactical acumen spot on, the proprietor of the set was settled by a tiebreaker. With a low backhand slice, Federer forced a backhand error from Roddick to go up a mini-break at 2-1. Subsequently, with Roddick netting a forehand, Federer extended his lead by two mini-breaks at 5-2. Roddick got one back with a forehand crosscourt winner and held serve for 5-6. However, Andy could not steal the set as Roger had done the second as Federer spoiled Roddick’s plan with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Again, there was cause to believe that Roddick’s 19th lost to Federer, his third at Wimbledon, was at hand. Yet, Andy’s body language did not waver. After each man was slightly tested on serve, holding at 40-30, Roddick held at love for 2-1. As Federer sliced backhand found the net and with Roddick converting a backhand volley winner, the American had double break point. When Federer misfired on volley off a sensational backhand pass, Andy had the break and a 3-1 lead. Despite a tough game, Roddick consolidated for 4-1. Although Federer pressured Roddick’s serve, he never achieved a deuce point. With a service unreturnable, Roddick pushed Federer to a fifth set.

After Federer held serve to start, with a backhand crosscourt pass, the Swiss had his first break point in a while. With a stellar first serve, Roddick induced a forehand return error and later equalized the set at 1 all. The subsequent seven games were an exhibition of masterful shots with winners and intelligent serving from both competitors. At 4-5, Roddick produced a forehand winner and an ace for the tie. Then at 5-6, the American squared things off with a down the line backhand pass. With no tiebreaker in the deciding set, the two played on. After Federer miscalculated a forehand crosscourt and a net court dropped for a winner for Roddick, at 30 all, the American seemed to have an opening. However, with a forehand up the line winner and a tremendous serve, Federer pulled ahead 7-6. With games at a premium, both players cruised on serve. At 8 apiece, Roddick blasted a forehand crosscourt winner. Then, with fabulous defense and another backhand down the line winner, Andy attained double break point. But, Federer came up with some dandy shots to ward off Roddick. As the set progressed, neither player retreated. Serving at 12-13 and 40-15, Roddick made a backhand error while Federer converted a forehand crosscourt for deuce. With two bombastic serves, Roddick protected serve. After Federer forged ahead 15-14 with a love game, Roddick committed two errors on deep returns by Federer. But once again, Roddick got to game point because of his dynamic serve. Although Roddick’s backhand crosscourt mistake led to deuce, with a backhand error, Federer gave Roddick a second chance to hold. However, when Roddick made a forehand up the line error on a mishit return by Federer, the American faced championship point. Considering Federer was 0 for 6 on break point conversion, the odds seemed in Roddick’s corner. Despite a good serve, Roddick had a forehand mid-court go long dashing his dream of a first Wimbledon title.

To count Andy out, Roger needed 4 hours and 16 minutes, 95 minutes for the fifth alone, the most number of games in any major final by far, 50 aces, more than 100 winners and as Federer himself admitted “ a little luck at the end”. As Pete Sampras looked on, Roddick did his best to “hold [Federer] off” and stop Roger from surpassing Sampras at 14 majors. With this win, Federer reclaims the number one ranking. However, he acknowledges there’s a footnote since Rafael Nadal could not defend his title. Federer achieved another rarity in tennis as Nadal did last year, winning the French and Wimbledon back to back.

After last year’s thrilling five set final between Nadal and Federer, no tennis fan could have dreamt that a similar spectacle would be repeated today. Once again, with this kind of unforgettable and mesmerizing performance, it almost makes one wish that the winner’s trophy could be severed in half.

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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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