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Feat of clay

india Updated: Jun 08, 2009 23:08 IST

It was the one delivery that never found its way home to Fedex, despite his notching up 20 straight Grand Slam semi-finals. But then, as they say, better late than never. Eleven years after the gentle Swiss, who’s made crying on court rather fashionable, turned pro, he finally won the French Open in style after being repeatedly frustrated by arch-rival Rafael Nadal.

Both Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl can empathise with the agony of an elusive Grand Slam, the Czech star having been repeatedly denied greener pastures at Wimbledon, while the great Swede failed to capture the crown at Flushing Meadows. Mr Federer’s apparent feet of clay, when it came to a win at Roland Garros, have no doubt caused similar heartache. But, it was only a matter of time before the predictable happened. While we can’t help but miss the colourful theatrics of John McEnroe or the flamboyance of Andre Agassi, it’s hard not to be bowled over by brilliance of the shy Federer, who is only the sixth player in history to win on all four Grand Slam surfaces.

Even as Robin Söderling thanked the ever-emotional champion for a ‘lesson in how to play tennis’, cynics might have been wondering if Roger was not sending a silent thank you of his own to the humbled youngster for brushing nemesis Nadal out of the way for his 14th Grand Slam title. In fact, Roger Federer’s pursuit of the French Open crown now seems a bit like the French security guards’ on-court chase of an intruder during the second set in the finals: four failed attempts and then… touchdown!