Federer ends long wait for French title

Roger Federer swept past Swede Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to clinch his first French Open title on Sunday and complete the full set of grand slam crowns.

The Swiss equalled Pete Sampras’s record of 14 grand slams, becoming only the sixth man to win all four major tournaments after sealing victory in just under two hours.

“It was really not easy to deal with my emotions,” said the 27-year-old Federer, who lost to world number one Rafael Nadal in the three previous finals.

“It might be the greatest victory of my career.”

The 23rd-seeded Soderling had ended Nadal’s four-year reign on the Paris clay in the fourth round.

“To me, he is the best player in history,” the Swede said.

Federer, the second man after Andre Agassi to win all four grand slam titles on all surfaces, started the match confidently by racing into a 4-0 lead.

Soderling held serve for 4-1 but Federer, who had never lost to Soderling in nine previous matches, kept up the pressure and clinched the first set on the Swede’s serve with a crosscourt passing shot.

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

He jumped from the stand opposite the media box and approached Federer, touching him with the flag and trying to put a hat on his head.

Leaping over the net towards Soderling, 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 Soderling levelled for 2-2.

“It was clear that he was not going to do anything to me, but what is ‘normally’ nowadays?,” Federer told French TV channel France 2.

“It is difficult to stay calm in such conditions. Maybe I should have taken a two-minute break after that game.”

Both players held serve to a tiebreak which Federer cruised through 7-1 after serving four aces.

The Swiss broke in the first game of the third set when his opponent sent a forehand wide and he never found a solution to turn the situation around.

Federer ended his wait on the first match point when Soderling netted a service return and the Swiss fell to his knee in tears, triggering a deafening roar from the 15 000 crowd. - Reuters

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