Federer captures French Open, ties Sampras


He finally did it!

On his fourth try at Roland Garros, Roger Federer defeated 23-seeded Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 on Sunday to win The French Open. It was his 14th major title, tying him with Pete Sampras. Federer became the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

After hitting a service winner for championship point, Federer fell to his knees, overwhelmed by the moment. The fans gave him a standing ovation and he responded by raising his arms in victory.

Playing in a cool, windy, drizzling day, Federer raced to quick lead over Soderling by sweeping the first four games of the opening set. Federer kept Soderling off balance all match with his superb ground game, as he pinpointed shots to both corners and slipping in the occasional drop shot for points all match long.

Andre Agassi, the most recent men’s player to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open 10 years ago, awarded the Swiss native with the championship trophy. Federer acknowledged that it was nice to finally be on the podium as a winner.

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Nadal’s 31-match streak ends at the French Open


Sometimes greatness is taken for granted. Fans expect Florida or USC to be playing for a national title year in and year out, the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox battling for American League pennant every season. When it doesn’t take place, it throws the sports universe off base.

Well, another sports gimme has ended. Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten streak has ended at the French Open.

The four-time defending champion lost to Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the round of 16 on Sunday, thus ending his 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros.

Here is the New York Times match account:

In his 31 previous matches at Roland Garros, Nadal had never been pushed to five sets in victory. He had not lost so much as a set in any match here since the 2007 final against Roger Federer, but Soderling changed all that with a varied but consistently aggressive approach: clubbing forehands with or without clear openings, serving big under pressure with the exception of the second-set tiebreaker and pushing forward to net on a semi-regular basis.

But Nadal, the Spaniard from Majorca who is seeded and ranked first, was clearly not the same irresistible force as usual. He failed to generate depth consistently, which allowed Soderling the space to keep applying pressure. He made errors off the ground from positions where he would normally generate winners or high-bouncing shots to the corners. He also looked, at times, less convincing than normal on defense, as Soderling made him stretch and then stretch some more.

But Soderling, an erratic player with a reputation for cracking under pressure, still had to summon the gumption and the shots to do what no other player had done in the five years since Nadal emerged with his topspin forehand, two-handed backhand and matador’s brio. With Nadal down, 1-2, in the fourth-set tiebreaker, Soderling ripped a backhand pass that Nadal could not handle and on the next point, Nadal made an uncharacteristic unforced error with his backhand.

It was 4-1, and it would soon be 6-1 when Nadal’s forehand pass hit the tape. Nadal would save the first match point he had ever faced at Roland Garros with a forehand winner down the line, but on the next point, he moved forward and pushed a forehand volley just wide.

Soderling pumped his fist, quickly shook Nadal’s hand and then the umpire’s hand, as well. Only then did he show just how much this moment meant to him, running back on court, throwing back his closely cropped head and roaring with delight before tossing his racket into the stands.

Earlier this season, Nadal defeated Soderling in straight sets on the clay surface at a tournament in Rome. The Swede has never advanced this far in a Grand Slam tournament before, as the deepest he went was the third round at the 2007 Wimbledon.

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