Roger Federer is long past the stage where his career can be defined by numbers, and yet a vital statistic was missing. It all fell neatly into place on Sunday. Robin Soderling returned into the net, Federer fell onto his knees and the crowd at the Phillippe Chatrier court rose to its feet. In one moment, the Swiss made the transition from a tennis great to the greatest men's player in the history of the game.
For four years, Rafael Nadal had denied him this piece of glory. But Federer finally completed his career Slam and in the process equalled Pete Sampras's record for the most number of majors - 14. “Nobody will ever say I didn't win the French Open,” said the world No. 2 like a man whose last wish has been granted.
Fittingly, it was Andre Agassi, the last man to achieve a career Grand Slam, exactly 10 years ago, who presented him the silverware - the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy.
Agassi won his first slam at the cost of Goran Ivanisevic. The maverick Croat lived for Wimbledon, and after three heart-breaking losses in the final, entered the 2001 tournament as a wildcard, and finally got hold of the glittering Cup at SW19. “This is what I have waited for all my life,” he had said. “No matter what I'll do until the end of my career, I'll always be a Wimbledon champion.”
And just like Soderling had given Federer a lifeline by defeating Nadal in the fourth round this year, the Swiss had cleared the path for Ivanisevic by taking out Sampras in the fourth round. But not every great went on to achieve his or her 'dream'.
Ivan Lendl completely banished the thought of completing a career Grand Slam after losing two Wimbledon finals, uttering his most famous words - grass is for cows. An eight-time Grand Slam champion, the Czech could never win on the famous lawns.
Similarly, the bad boy of tennis-John McEnroe- could never win the French title while Bjorn Borg found the atmosphere of the US Open too overwhelming. In the next generation, the great exponents on grass - Sampras and Stefan Edberg never found their feet on clay.
Honour for Federer
Basel (Agency input): Federer’s birthplace will rename its international tennis venue after its most famous sporting son. The St. Jakobshalle will be called Roger Federer Arena following a planned renovation, Basel sports director Peter Howald said on Monday.