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French Open finally goes in Federer's favour

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Switzerland's Roger Federer has at the fourth attempt won the final of the French Open tournament in Paris, setting his name even more firmly in tennis history.

This content was published on June 7, 2009 - 17:08

Federer, the world number two and second seed, on Sunday defeated Robin Söderling of Sweden in straight sets 6-1, 7-6, 6-4.

Equalling Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles, Federer stormed through the first set in just 23 minutes after benefiting from his 23rd-seeded opponent's unforced errors.

He needed 49 minutes to take the second under light rain.

Federer started the match confidently, racing into a 4-0 lead with two breaks.

Söderling, the man who ended world number one Rafael Nadal's four-year reign on the Paris clay in the fourth round, held serve for 4-1.

But Federer, who had never lost to Söderling in nine previous encounters, kept up the pressure and clinched the first set on Söderling's serve with a crosscourt passing shot.

Interruption

The match was briefly interrupted after a man came on Centre Court towards the Swiss with a red and blue flag during the fourth game of the second set.

The man jumped from the stand opposite from the media box and approached Federer, touching him with the flag.

Leaping over the net towards Söderling, the man was tackled by Roland Garros security officers and carried away from the court.

Federer lost three points in a row after the incident as Söderling levelled for 2-2. Both players held serve to a tiebreak, which Federer won 7-1 after serving four aces.

The 27-year-old Swiss broke early in the third set to make it a straight sets victory.

On his fourth try at Roland Garros, Federer became the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships.

When the stylish Swiss hit a service winner on championship point, he fell on his knees to the clay that had vexed him for so long, screamed and briefly buried his face in his hands.

He was teary by the time he met Söderling at the net, and fans gave Federer a standing ovation as he raised his arms in triumph.

No more pressure

"It might be the greatest victory of my career," Federer said.

"It takes away so much pressure. Now, I can play in peace for the rest of my career. Nobody will never tell me again that I have not won Roland Garros."

Federer was presented with the Musketeers' Cup by Andre Agassi, the only man before him to have won the four grand slams on four different surfaces.

"It feels good to be on the podium as the winner for once. It is a magical moment."

The Swiss had lost the three previous French Open finals against four-times champion Nadal who was beaten in the fourth round by Söderling.

"Congratulations for your wonderful tournament," he told the Swede.

Speaking to the 15,000 crowd, he said: "You put a lot of pressure on my shoulders but you backed me so much. I don't know how to thank you. Maybe this title is a little something."

A smiling Söderling said he was beaten by the "best player in history."

"Yesterday, with my coach [Magnus Norman] we were joking, like nobody can beat me ten times in a row," he said, referring to Federer having beaten him in their previous encounters.

"We were wrong."

swissinfo.ch with agencies

Key facts

Federer statistics in final:

Aces - 16
Winners - 58
Double faults - 2
Unforced errors - 24

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Federer's way to the final

First round: beat Alberto Martin (Spain) 6-4 6-3 6-2
Second round: beat Jose Acasuso (Argentina) 7-6 5-7 7-6 6-2
Third round: beat Paul-Henri Mathieu (France) 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4
Fourth round: beat Tommy Haas (Germany) 6-7 5-7 6-4 6-0 6-2
Quarter-final: beat Gael Monfils (France) 7-6 6-2 6-4
Semi-final: beat Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) 3-6 7-6 2-6 6-1 6-4.

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Andre Agassi talks about Roger Federer

Roger Federer will undoubtedly become the greatest tennis player to have graced the sport if he wins the French Open, Andre Agassi said on Saturday.

Agassi, one of only six men to have achieved the career grand slam, said: "It ends the discussion of where he fits in the history of the game," the American said during a visit to Roland Garros with his wife Steffi Graf.

"This is going to mean so much to him, to have that hole filled. It's something he's going to earn... and I think it will change his life."

Federer now joins Don Budge, Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Agassi as the men who have won all four majors. It also gives Federer a record-equalling 14th grand slam crown, putting him level with Pete Sampras.

"It would be privilege for the game to see history being made and in some ways it feels like destiny for him and it's going to be pretty exciting.

"He's extraordinarily talented and talk about grace on court, watching him play is something special to see."

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