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Swiss hail Federer as sporting hero

Switzerland hailed Roger Federer as a national hero after he became the first Swiss man to win a grand slam title.
PTI | By Reuters, Zurich
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2003 06:15 PM IST

Switzerland hailed Roger Federer as a national hero on Monday after he became the first Swiss man to win a grand slam title with his emotional triumph at Wimbledon.

Just four months after the land-locked nation sailed to a surprise victory in the America's Cup, Switzerland's sporting pride was further boosted by the 21-year-old's 7-6 6-2 7-6 win against Australian Mark Philippoussis on Sunday.

"King Roger the first!" the mass-circulation Blick newspaper blazed across its front page on Monday. "All of Switzerland is celebrating Federer's Wimbledon win."

"A champion is born," the daily Tagesanzeiger said in a front-page editorial. "Full of fantasy, efficient and magical."

"Now Federer is being being hailed as a leading light who has freed his sport from a phase of monotony," the paper said. "That he won his first grand slam at Wimbledon proves to everyone that Federer has the makings of a champion."

"Switzerland could be proud of Alinghi, and now they can be just as proud of Federer," the paper said, referring to the Swiss yacht Alinghi's 5-0 win in the America's Cup against Team New Zealand in March -- the first European win in the Cup's 152-year history.

Swiss Martina Hingis, who won the Wimbledon women's crown in 1997, paid her own tribute to Federer.

"Congratulations!" Hingis told the Blick. "Roger was masterful, it was very impressive. Winning at Wimbledon is a fantastic feeling. Something unforgettable."

Federer told the Swiss SDA news agency that he could not help but cry at the prize ceremony.


"At powerful moments, I am just like that," he said. "At first I think I can hold back the tears. But then I just start blubbing anyway."

But Federer modestly brushed aside comparisons made between him and American seven-times Wimbledon winner Pete Sampras.

"I am on my first win," he said. "I am still a long way from him. But it makes me very happy that my name is on the winners' board and that I am part of Wimbledon's history."

Swiss media have taken Federer to heart during the two-week grand slam in London, hailing the long-haired player as an everyday hero who has kept his feet on the ground thanks to the support of close family and friends.

"We have never pushed Rogers' progress -- really never," his father Robert told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung in an interview. "Even when he was just knee-high he was already running down the street with a tennis racquet."

Federer is due to return to Switzerland on Monday to play in the Swiss Open in Gstaad with his first match on Tuesday against a qualifier, Marc Lopez of Spain.

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