last man

Agassi Praises Federer

It was highly appropriate that Andre Agassi was the man to hand Roger Federer La Coupe des Mousquetaires as the 2009 French Open champion. With his win, Federer completed a “Career Grand Slam” and made claim to being the greatest tennis player of all-time with this 14th major singles title – tying the all-time record set by Pete Sampras. Federer became only the sixth man to win a Career Grand Slam – with Agassi being the last man to complete the rare feat, also at Roland Garros 10 years earlier in 1999. Following his 2005 US Open final-round loss to Federer, Agassi praised Federer as the best player he ever played. The following excerpt from Rene Stauffer’s book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) documents Agassi’s remarks.

Following the match, Agassi had the highest of praise for Federer, calling him best player he ever faced. “Pete (Sampras) was great, no question,” Agassi said. “But there was a place to get to with Pete. It could be on your terms. There’s no such place with Roger. I think he’s the best I’ve played against.” Said Federer of Agassi’s comments, “It’s fantastic to be compared to all the players he’s played throughout his career. We’re talking about the best-some are the best of all time. And I still have chances to improve.”

Federer, fighting off the partisan crowd and a determined and inspired Agassi, said he felt the match was lost in the third set. “I’m amazed that I did it and that it’s already over,” he said just after the match. “Agassi was like the fish that had gotten away from me.” Next to Martina Navratilova, Agassi was the only living-legend still active on the tour. “Playing against him while I am at the peak of my career and his is coming to a close, in New York of all places, and in the final of the US Open-that was probably the most imporĀ­tant match in my life.”

Federer was not resentful-or surprised-of the biased crowd that cheered so vociferously for Agassi. “I was prepared for the worst but it was harder than I expected,” he said of the crowd. “I hoped that there would have been more applause when I made good shots, but I understand the crowd. The stars were in the right alignment for Agassi to potentially end his career like Sampras or Ivanisevic by winning a Grand Slam title.”

Federer Finally Wins French Open

Roger Federer defeated surprise finalist Robin Soderling 6-2, 7-6(1), 6-4 for his first French Open victory on Sunday and in the process cemented his place as the greatest tennis player of all time. Apart from it being his first win on the red clay of Paris, it gave Federer a career Grand Slam – a win at each of the four marquee events on tour and also tied him for the most Grand Slam tournaments of all time, a mark he now shares with Pete Sampras at fourteen apiece.

Previously defeated in three French Open finals against his great rival Rafael Nadal, everything went Federer’s way this time around as the world number two dominated his younger and less experienced opponent. He cruised in the opening set by breaking Soderling’s serve three times. Despite the fact that the second set produced no breaks, Federer dominated when it mattered by delivering four aces in the tiebreaker alone. An early break in the third set and it was all over in less than two hours.

Federer’s serve was lethal in the final, winning 85% of his first serve points, and 66% of his second serve points along with 16 aces. He also produced many unreachable balls with a drop-shot we have rarely seen him use as effectively in the past. Despite the weight of history on his shoulders, he only appeared nervous during the second set when a deranged fan managed to run onto the court and momentarily disrupt Federer’s path to victory. On this day it was Soderling who appeared quite uneasy in his first Grand Slam final. The Swede only delivered brief glimpses of the dangerous forehand he successfully used earlier in the week against the defending champion Nadal and a host of other dangerous clay court players. It was still a incredible week for Soderling who will rise to a career high ranking of 12 in the world.

After the match, an elated Federer fittingly received the winner’s trophy from former tennis great Andre Agassi – the last man to accomplish the career Grand Slam. Shedding tears of joy as they played the Swiss national anthem, it was apparent to all in attendance and to those watching at home just how much this moment meant for Federer. In a post-match interview with John McEnroe, Federer revealed that along with his initial Grand Slam win at Wimbledon in 2003, this win was the most satisfying.

After dealing with the momentous pressure to win that was left in the wake of Nadal’s fourth round departure, barely making it past Tommy Haas and Juan Martin Del Potro in tough five set matches, and playing his best tennis when it mattered against Soderling, his victory was just as satisfying for all who had the pleasure to watch.
Felicitations Roger!