views

Federer joy at long-awaited French glory

WORLD No2 Roger Federer toasted the finest moment of his distinguished career after finally triumphing at the French Open yesterday.<br /><br />A straight-sets victory over Sweden&rsquo;s Robin Soderling saw Federer snare the one Grand Slam to elude him, and equal Pete Sampras&rsquo;s record of 14 major titles.<br /><br />Federer sank to his knees in relief upon completing the 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 win, ending a run of three years as a losing finalist to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was probably my greatest victory,&rdquo; said the Swiss 27-year-old. &ldquo;The victory was a huge pressure for me today. It&rsquo;s one of the best days of my life. Tennis is just my life. It&rsquo;s nice to be up here on the podium as a winner this time.&rdquo;<br /><br />Soderling, who sprung the surprise of the tournament by defeating Nadal in round four, had no complaints and heaped praise on his opponent.<br /><br />&ldquo;You really gave me a lesson on how to play tennis today,&rdquo; said the 23rd seed. &ldquo;For me you&rsquo;re the greatest player in history so you really deserved to win this title.&rdquo;<br /><br />Former star Andre Agassi, the most recent of only five men to have equalled Federer&rsquo;s achievement of winning all four Grand Slams, presented him with the trophy.<br /><br />Federer had been favourite to end his wait for French Open glory since the exit of Nadal, champion in Paris for the last four years.<br /><br />And he will be strongly fancied to eclipse Sampras&rsquo;s record and become the all-time leading Grand Slam title-winner by claiming a sixth Wimbledon crown in the coming weeks, with Nadal struggling to recover from knee trouble.<br /><br />Despite the personal significance of the occasion, Federer showed few nerves in a comprehensive defeat of Soderling. The Swede gifted Federer a break in the very first game and, despite forcing a second-set tie-break, could not get a foothold in the match. Federer clinched victory when Soderling netted a forehand return.<br /><strong><br />FEDERER&rsquo;S 14-GRAND JOB </strong> SLAM BY SLAM<br /><strong>AUSTRALIAN OPEN:</strong> 2004, 2006, 2007<br /><strong>FRENCH OPEN:</strong> 2009<br /><strong>WIMBLEDON:</strong> 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007<br /><strong>US OPEN:</strong> 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008