The match itself wasn't much to write home about. Soderling did what I thought and hoped he would do: which was crumble under the pressure of being in his first ever Grand Slam Final. Kudos to the guy for not only setting a personal best at any Grand Slam event but for also playing some superb tennis in the process. But today it was the Roger Federer's day and he came out like it from the beginning. While Roger played solid tennis in the first set, he was helped out a bit by Soderling who's dangerous serving had completely left him. I figured some semblance of the Soderling I had seen before would show up and sure enough he did. It went all the way to a tiebreak. And wow. What a tiebreaker for Roger. 4 aces?! Jeez. He didn't give Soderling any chances whatsoever.
After that, you had to figure it was only going to be a matter of time before Roger won. Well, at least that's what I hoped. I was still thinking that in a best of five sets, we could still be in for a lot of tennis. Roger immediately broke serve and pretty much didn't look back until he had to serve for the match. Ah. The moment of truth. Would he choke? He already looked in tears before he had to start serving. Not a good sign. Then he faced break point for only the second or third time in the entire match. Some good serving put him back to match point and then... Sodering put it into the net to finish off the match. Game. Set. Match. And Roger wins his first ever Roland Garros title.
What this means
So it took a little longer than expected, but he got his 14th title.
After what had to be a fairly bad year for Federer, there were questions about whether his time was up. In all honesty, the questions were fair. No, they didn't need to be talked about to the enth degree, but they were legitimate to some degree. Federer set a very high standard for men's tennis, and when he fell sort of his standards, it had the people up in arms.
But just like he did back at the US Open last year, this year Federer silenced his critics - critics who, especially since the Australian Open, had gotten very loud. He's now tied with Pete Sampras for the most Grand Slams won. He's now in a small list of people which doesn't include Sampras and Bjorn Borg, who have won all four titles in their career. This is pretty massive. Even Roger was having trouble concentrating:
But it was very hard mentally for me to stay within the match during the match, because my mind was always wondering, what if? What if I win this tournament? What does that mean? What will I possibly say? I don't know.Why this win still counts
You can'thelp it but to tell yourself, you know, once you win you'll get all the time tothink about all these things, but they keep on coming back.
I was verynervous at the beginning of the third set because I realized how close I was. The last game, obviously you can imagine how difficult that game was. It was almost unplayable for me because I was just hoping to serve some good serves and hoping that he was going to make four errors. It was that bad.
So, yeah,it was an emotional roller coaster for me.
For some people, this win will mean less because he didn't beat Nadal. I think there's a few things here. For me, I dont believe that it would've be the same if Rafa hadn't participated in the tournament. If Rafa had pulled out and Roger had won, then there would be a legitimate case to say "well, yes, he won, but Nadal wasn't in the tournament so can we truly rank this win up there with say, his fifth Wimbledon win?". But the thing here is, Nadal was in this tournament. He did participate. And he lost. Federer didn't poison him. Federer didn't bully him into pulling out. Nadal lost to an opponent who played a hell of a lot better than he did in that match. Federer had no control over that match. So if the defending champ is going to play badly and goes out, then that leaves the door wide open for other players to take the title. This title doesn't mean less because he didn't beat Nadal. This win wasn't handed to him. He had to work for it. And he earned it.
(Image from here)