Federer finishes career Grand Slam
PARIS - Roger Federer beat Robin Soderling, tied Pete Sampras, and won the French Open at last. Undeterred by an on-court intruder, Federer defeated surprise finalist Soderling, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4, yesterday to complete a career Grand Slam and win his 14th major title, matching Sampras' record.
PARIS - Roger Federer beat Robin Soderling, tied Pete Sampras, and won the French Open at last.
Undeterred by an on-court intruder, Federer defeated surprise finalist Soderling, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4, yesterday to complete a career Grand Slam and win his 14th major title, matching Sampras' record.
"It's maybe my greatest victory, or certainly the one that removes the most pressure off my shoulders," Federer said. "I think that now and until the end of my career, I can really play with my mind at peace, and no longer hear that I've never won at Roland Garros."
On his fourth try in a Paris final, Federer became the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships.
"Now the question is: Am I the greatest of all time?" Federer said. "We don't know, but I definitely have many things going for me, because I've finally won all four Grand Slams - and I'm particularly happy reaching Pete's 14."
Sampras said Federer deserves to be at the top of the all-time list.
"I'm obviously happy for Roger," Sampras told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where he lives. "Now that he has won in Paris, I think it just more solidifies his place in history as the greatest player that played the game, in my opinion."
Midway through the match, a spectator ran onto the court and tried to put a hat on Federer. That only briefly delayed Federer's march to the title.
When the stylish Swiss hit a service winner on championship point, he fell on his knees, screamed, and briefly buried his face in his hands. He was teary by the time he met Soderling at the net, and fans gave Federer a standing ovation as he raised his arms in triumph.
The supportive crowd included Andre Agassi, the most recent man to complete a career Grand Slam when he won at Roland Garros 10 years ago. Agassi presented Federer with the trophy.
"I'm so happy for you, man," Agassi said.
Tears ran down Federer's cheeks as the Swiss national anthem played.
"Roger, really, congrats to you," Soderling said. "You really gave me a lesson in how to play tennis today. And to me you're the greatest player in history. So you really deserved to win this title."
Federer owed Soderling thanks for easing his path by upsetting four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.
"I kind of was relieved, because he was going to be the hardest one to beat," Federer said.
Nadal defeated Federer at Roland Garros the past four years, including three consecutive times in the final.
Federer won his 14th Grand Slam championship at age 27. Sampras was 31 when he won his last major title. Federer will try for No. 15 beginning in two weeks at Wimbledon, which he has won five times.
Besides Federer and Agassi, the other men to win all four Grand Slam tournaments were Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, and Roy Emerson.