world #2 roger federer of switzerland defeated roger soderling of sweden, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to win his 1st french open singles crown. the historic win tied pete sampras for 14 grand slam singles titles, a record he hopes to break at this summer's wimbledon. despite losing the last three years in the french open final to world #1 rafael nadal of spain, federer persevered in perhaps his most difficult championship win. his most coveted trophy brought an onslaught of tears at match point, when soderling was unable to return his lethal forehand.
most pundits expected & predicted nadal would win a record fifth consecutive title. yet in the fourth round, the #23 seed soderling shocked the tennis world dominating nadal in four sets. hall of famer & tv analyst john mcenroe called soderling's win, "the greatest upset in the last 20 years of the game." in fact, this was soderling's first grand slam final yet he was thoroughly outplayed by federer, who entered the match with a 9-0 record against the much improved swede, who now ranks #12.
federer becomes the sixth man to capture all four grand slam singles titles. he joins andre agassi, don budge, roy emerson, rod laver & fred perry in the record books. also, federer has now played in 20 consecutive grand slam semifinals, a feat some are calling the joe dimaggio of tennis records. his durability, integrity & respect as an international athlete continues to marvel both the average fan & the top players on tour. soderling would later concede during the trophy ceremony, "he is the greatest tennis player of all time."
the first set lasted about 22 minutes as federer opened the match with a service break. federer served brilliantly throughout, not facing a break point until late in the second set. during the tension-filled tiebreaker federer aced soderling on four straight serves, drawing awes from the adoring crowd at philippe chartier stadium. soderling eventually picked up his game, hitting winners from both angles, yet he lacked the mobility to track down the assortment of drop shots adeptly utilized by federer.
federer's road to the final was not without struggle as he faced adversity time & time again. in the second round against unseeded jose acasuso of spain, federer was down 1-5 in the third set, the match tied at a set apiece, before he found his range & prevailed in four sets. in the third round against paul-henri mathieu of france, he lost the first set convincingly, yet he would play well enough to get a tough four set win in front of a partisan crowd, despite the fat his opponent was playing on home turf.
in the fourth round against 31 year-old veteran tommy haas of germany, federer lost the first two sets. as the match unfolded he found himself in an unenviable position, serving at 3-4, break point in the third set, before unleashing his trademark inside out forehand. federer won the thrilling match in five sets. in the semi-finals against world #5 juan martin del porto of argentina he was down two sets to one. the 20 year-old had never won a set off federer in their five previous contests yet he was dominating on serve & hitting winners from the back of the court with ease. federer slowly turned the tide & fought his way to the final where he felt the pressure of expecting to win because nadal was no longer in the draw.
winning the french open singles championship is a difficult task for any player. each year a number of european-born clay-court specialists upset top-ranked players with discipline, patience & steadfast games. the red clay at roland garros is unlike any other surface on the atp tour. when you add the inevitable rain, swirling winds & topspin forehands you have a dusty road few are able to climb successfully. federer had long been hailed the second best clay court player in the game. but on this historic occasion, the now married & soon-to-be father was, in the words of tina turner, simply the best.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.