Federer the Great

Permiteti-mi sa citez site-ul oficial Roland Garros si sa prezint descrierea detaliata a finalei de azi dintre Federer si Soderling. Magie pe zgura. Cei care iubesc tenisul o sa aiba rabdarea sa citeasca tot si o sa ma inteleaga. Urmeaza turneele britanice aristocrate. The Queen’s Club si Wimbledon. Splendoare in iarba.

In ordine cronologica, de jos in sus:

Sunday 7 June – As it happened

Sunday, June 7, 2009
By Andrew Lilley

Federer the Great

Roger Federer became only the sixth man to achieve the career Grand Slam and equalled Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors by defeating Robin Soderling in straight sets in Sunday’s men’s final. Relive every game of this historic match right here.

7.25 pm: Well, did you enjoy the tournament? I certainly did. We had drama throughout and then two worthy winners. Saturday’s women’s final maybe left us wanting more but I’m sure Dinara will be back and get stronger mentally, while it was great to see Svetlana finally follow up her 2004 US Open title with her second major here.

And then there was Sunday. Federer finally removed any doubts that anyone might have had about his all-conquering all-round ability. Cynics will say that Nadal was not there in the final, but that was no-one’s fault but the Spaniards and Roger can only beat whoever is in front of him. 20 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals – five of them here, obviously – tells its own tale and his victory today puts him up there with the greatest of all time. If Rafa can remain fit, he may well join him, but today is all about Roger.

Thank you to all of your for reading and writing in over the past two weeks. It’s been a pleasure reading, writing for and being corrected by you. I’ll be back on the Wimbledon website in two weeks time (I don’t know about Roger and Rafa but after two weeks in Rome and the same here, I need a break!)

Until then, take care of yourselves and enjoy your tennis. Always a pleasure writing for you, never a chore…

5.53 pm: The sun is out now but it is absolutely throwing it down with rain! The gods smiled down on the final and on Federer today! And on me too – I have a flight back to Switzerland booked at 11 am tomorrow!

5.29 pm: It’s bucketing down, but most of the crowd are still there, huddled under umbrellas, soaking up the atmosphere (as opposed to the rain). Roger poses for the cameras, kissing the trophy – the previous winner tended to bite it but this year’s victor is trying a little tenderness.

5.26 pm: Chair ump Pascal Maria is thanked for his work, then the finalists pose with Andre Agassi and French Tennis Federation president Jean Gachassin.

5.24 pm: Roger thanks his team, with a special mention for “my lovely wife”, which gets a wave from Mirka.

5.23 pm: Roger takes the mic. Robin gets some thanks, then Andre gets big respect.

5.22 pm: The rain’s pouring down now – how lucky we were today (though maybe Soderling would have liked a rain break).

5.21 pm: Soderling takes the mike and congratulates Rog. “The best player in history,” he says. Plenty of smiles and humour in his little speech – good on him. I’ll get you next time, he tells Rog with a grin!

5.18 pm: “Morgenrot”, the Swiss national anthem, is played, as Mirka films with a handheld camera. Tears roll slowly down Roger’s cheeks (and mine, I have to say!)

5.16 pm: Yup, he’s in tears! Up he comes to receive his trophy.

5.14 pm: Agassi comes out to present the trophy – they’re both going to be in tears, I reckon!

5.10 pm: Big serve down the middle, Soderling nets and Federer falls to his knees. He’s in tears out there, as well he might be. He has truly achieved greateness – Nadal or no Nadal this year, he’s won a Grand Slam on every surface (and plenty more to spare on grass and hard courts).

5.09 pm: FEDERER WINS!

5.09 pm: First serve, follow up and volley. Grand. Slam. Point.

5.08 pm: First serve, rally, Soderling shanks one. Deuce.

5.07 pm: Big serve, rally, Rog wides a backhand. 30-30. Next up, same again! 30-40, break point. Mirka can barely stand the tension… Second serve…

5.05 pm: Second serve, let, then Soderling nets after a kicked serve. 15-0. big serve, big return and Rog can’t dig it out, 15-15. Big serve and Robin can’t cope with it. 30-15.

5.04 pm: Soderling has a few nervous moments but serves out to 30. That was the “easy” part – can Roger hold his nerve now? He is four points, on his own serve, away from becoming the first man since Andre Agassi (who is here today) here in 1999 to win all four of the Grand Slams… Here goes…

4.59 pm: Fed dominates a rally then serves big next up to make it 5-3.

4.58 pm: The spots of rain are slightly heavier than the finest of drizzles that we had earlier. It’s still perfectly playable though. 30-all on the Fed serve. What can the Swede do here?

4.55 pm: Soderling holds to 30, 4-3. Can he summon up one last effort? He has three games in which to do so.

4.51 pm: A big wide serve makes it 30-15, then to the delight of the crowd, two aces finish it off. 4-2. Rog still looks as determined as ever as the crowd urge both players on.

4.48 pm: Soderling holds to 15 but he needs to do more than just than in the next five games if he’s to stay alive. 3-2, Fed to serve. Soderling unwraps a new racquet – will that be his secret weapon? (Unlikely, but hey, one never knows…)

4.44 pm: Federer drops short but doesn’t follow up. Magnus Norman shrugs. Federer finishes it off. Deuce. A forehand passing shot after the return of service makes it Ad Fed, then a line-painting rally ensues which ends with Soderling looonging one. 3-1. Robin looks to the sky imploringly, as well he might – Rog meanwhile has his game face on…

4.42 pm: 30-30, second serve. Is this Robin’s final fling? He is forced way onto the back foot then Rog smashes waaay long when under no pressure. Break point…

4.38 pm: More umbrellas go up as Soderling holds to 15. 2-1.

4.35 pm: Fed follows up with a comfortable hold to 15. Four games away. He leads 2-0.

4.33 pm: Soderling serves to open the third – he’s behind the eight-ball here and no mistake. Is this the day that he comes back down to earth? A great overhead backhand volley makes it 30-15, but then Federer passes him to perfection. Bobby Sod then doubles faults – one each set so far and this one is Christmas come early as far as Fed is concerned, especially as the Swede wides a forehand under little pressure next up and hands Fed an immediate break. Five games from history…

4.26 pm: Second serve, Rog pounces and lays down a beaut of a sliced forehand drop. 6-1. Ace! Fed takes it 7-1. Two sets to love.

4.25 pm: Second serve, Fed pushes him back, Robin wides a backhand into the tramlines. 5-1 at the change-over.

4.24 pm: Mini-break as Fed dictates. 2-1. Fed ace from Ad (left) court this time – first was from the deuce (right) court. 3-1. Then another ace, from the deuce court. 4-1.

4.22 pm: Fed longs and we’ll have a tie-break. He’s seven points and six games from the pantheon, Soderling is seven points from levelling at one set all in his first Grand Slam final… Fed aces to open – that’s a good start! Robin aces riiiiight back at him! 1-1! Come on!

4.21 pm: Game point Soderling but this time Fed passes him with a backhand along the line that makes Robin’s coach Magnus Norman wince. Deuce.

4.19 pm: Kevin Federling, sorry Robin Soderling loses his touch on the first serve again, and we get to 40-30. Enormous serve and follow-up, but Fed “running passes” him down the line with a curled forehand. Deuce. Fed is two points from the second set.

4.14 pm: Whoosh! Fed serves huge down the middle from the deuce (right) court and then forehand follow-ups big from the Ad court and it’s 6-5 as he holds to luuuurve.

4.11 pm: Soderling slightly fluffs a smash but out-faultless-es Federer to hold to love. 5-5. Tie-break, anyone? Ooh, that’s be fun…

4.09 pm: Rog takes a forehand volley too early and punts it wide, but otherwise he’s faultless as he serves out to 15. 5-4. There’s a fine drizzle in the air and it’s a little chilly but conditions are perfectly playable.

4.06 pm: 30-all, then Soderling steps up with more big serves and huge forehands. 4-4.

4.01 pm: Big serves, nice sliced forehand drops and Federer holds, comfortablissimo, to 15. 4-3.

3.57 pm: Umbrellas start going up at 30-30 on the Swede serve. It’s still very windy as well. Rotten luck for the final day after two weeks of sun. Soderling serves big, follows up on the forehand and volleys, twice in a row, and takes the game. 3-3. He’s looking much more comfortably out there.

3.53 pm: Will this have an effect on Rog? This’ll be the mark of a real champion – can he just shrug it off? An ace makes it 40-15, a decent drop from Soderling 40-30 – can he take it to deuce for the first time? This is his big chance… No, he longs one and Rog holds to 3-2 and can now have a sit down. Fair play to both guys for continuing as if nothing had happened.

3.48 pm: An idiot leaps out of the crowd and runs up to Federer between points draped in a Spanish flag. Fortunately no harm is done and after dropping his shoulder, avoiding the guards and leaping the net, the culprit is rugby tackled in no uncertain terms by a security officer and brought down. Play continues, and Soderling holds to love. Hmm… 2-2.

3.46 pm: The wind is really whistling in here. Not that Fed minds – he takes the next four points, with an ace as an exclamation point – and leads 2-1. Coats going on in the crowd but no umbrellas up yet.

3.44 pm: Soderling holds pretty comfortably to 15 – three out of five first serves, that’ll make a big difference. Plenty of tennis left in this match yet, particularly as he takes the opening point of the next Federer service game…

3.40 pm: That extra break to finish off means that Federer can serve to open the second set, with new balls as well (you change every nine games, but since the warm-up counts as two, the first change comes after seven). Serving with balles neuves always provides an extra 1% (if you’re serving well, that is) and Fed holds to 15. It’s like a scratched Bob Marley record here – one love, one love…

3.37 pm: Soderling still can’t land a first serve in – 12 out of 22 only so far, and that’s negating one of his biggest weapons – but he still comes to the net, perhaps out of desperation as it’s also blunting his other big weapon – the forehand. It doesn’t work though – a backhand passing shot from the Fed takes the first set 6-1.

3.32 pm: He may have lost a game, or rather failed to break for the first time in three attempts, but that hasn’t thrown the Swissie off his game – Rog holds at an absolute canter, and less that 20 minutes in, Bobby Sod is serving to save the set and staring down the barrel of a baguette (6-1).

3.29 pm: Bobby Sod takes the pace off the ball and fights slice with slice. Fed rushes a forehand and the goateed, sideburned Swede in on the board at last at 4-1.

3.27 pm: Whoosh. 4-0. Even the lovely Mirka, usually impassive, allows herself a little smile, but it’s more one of “hang on, I can hardly believe that this is all so easy…”

3.24 pm: Bobby Sod still can’t get a first serve in and Rog is two breaks and a semi-bagel to the good. Three-lurve. He’s a sixth of the way to the career slam… Will he wail like Agassi did back in 1999 when he came back to beat Medvedev? I think we’d forgive him if he did.

3.20 pm: Fed serves it up big, strong and tough, and even throws in a nice little drop to finish off. 2-0. Whoosh. The best possible start for the Fed Express, and the worst for Bobby Sod.

3.17 pm: Double fault! First blood to Fed, 1-0 with an immediate break. Nerves from the Swede? Almost certainly…

3.15 pm: Soderling pummels Fed’s backhand and gets back to 30-all. I don’t think the Swissie has hit a forehand yet, and Bobby Sod hasn’t got a first serve. 30-40.

3.13 pm: Soderling serves to open. It’s a second serve as well, but he attacks afterwards. Federer defends in his usual stalwart fashion and Soderling punts a forehand wide. Next up, second ball again, Soderling longs a backhand. 0-30.

3.10 pm: Pascal Maria’s in the chair.

3.09 pm: The rain’s holding off and we’ll be under way any minute. Oh, the tension! Both players looked pretty calm. Ah, Mrs Miroslava Federer is in the crowd, as you’d expect. No contractions today please, Mirka – Rog is a tad occupied at the mo.

3.02 pm: Out come the players – Soderling, followed by an absolutely monumental ovation for Federer! The crowd are going to be pretty one-sided today, methinks…

3 pm: Three o’clocks and I can feel a tiny drop of rain in the air. Irony of ironies…

2.53 pm: Hmm… the wind is whistling in and bringing a lot of evil-looking clouds with it… I’ll keep you posted…

2.39 pm: I’m asked about “quarante a” (no accents on this keyboard I’m afraid) when a match gets to deuce in France. The first one (from 40-30 or 30-40 to deuce) is “quarante a” (“forty to” so I suppose “forty to both players) and then any other ones are “egalite” (equality). Why? I know not. When you play table tennis in French, its deux a, trios a, if you’re level. No egalites there.

Weather’s still fine by the way. It’s clouding over but still reasonably bright.

2.12 pm: Ha, we needn’t have worried! Mladenovic breaks again to love then serves out to take the junior Roland Garros crown! Felicitations, as we say over here!

2.05 pm: We’re into a second set in the girls’ final with local heroine Kristina Mladenovic leading Russia’s Daria Gavrilova a set and 4-2, but she’s just been broken back. Mladenovic has a little bit of Nadalesque strapping below the right knee, while Gavrilova has had her left knee totally strapped up…

1 pm: Good afternoon one and all, and welcome to the men’s final! The header says it all really – Federer enters the pantheon of greatness (that some would say he was already a member of) or Soderling continues his amazing run and takes the first step on the road to becoming the next Borg or Wilander? What do you reckon? Federer in four for me.

Most importantly, after rain was forecast, it’s a glorious day here. Sunny, 20 degrees. Perfect weather for tennis!

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