Federer’s First ATP Match Victory

Today, September 30, 1998, is a fascinating anniversary in the career of Roger Federer, as outlined by Randy Walker, author of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY (www.TennisHistoryBook.com)

September 30, 1998: Seventeen-year-old Roger Federer defeats Guillaume Raoux of France 6-2, 6-2 in the first round in Toulouse for his first ATP singles match victory. Rene Stauffer, in his book Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection, summarizes Federer’s achievement, “Yet, before the chase for the year-end No. 1 junior ranking reached its decisive phase, the unexpected happened. Federer achieved his first great breakthrough on the ATP Tour. With a ranking of No. 878, he traveled to Toulouse, France at the end of September and, to his own surprise, advanced through the qualifying rounds to progress into the main draw of the tournament. In only his second ATP tournament, the 17-year-old registered an upset victory over No. 45-ranked Guillaume Raoux of France—his first ATP match victory—allowing the Frenchman just four games. In the next round, Federer proved this win was not a fluke by defeating former Australian Davis Cup star Richard Fromberg 6-1, 7-6 (5). In the quarterfinals—his sixth match of the tournament including matches in the qualifying rounds—Federer lost to Jan Siemerink 7-6 (5), 6-2, with a throbbing thigh injury hampering him during the match. The Dutchman was ranked No. 20 and went on to win the tournament two days later, but Federer was also handsomely rewarded. He received a prize money check for $10,800 and passed 482 players in the world rankings in one tournament—moving to No. 396.”

The KOZ With The Bryans

Americans Mike Bryan & Bob Bryan created more tennis history capturing their 4th US Open Men’s Doubles crown & 12th slam title. Dave “Koz” Kozlowski caught up with the champion twins after their victory.

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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2011 – Tennis Channel will take viewers into the remarkable life and career of one of the most notable – and notorious – stars of tennis’ “Golden Era” with Signature Series: Vitas Gerulaitis.  The latest installment of the network’s original Signature Series documentary line will premiere Monday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. ET.  A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s Web site at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Vitas Gerulaitis showcases the tennis achievements, celebrated nightlife and shocking death of one of the most colorful characters in tennis history.  During a career that spanned from 1971 to 1986, an era brimming with compelling personalities, few shined brighter than Gerulaitis.  Dubbed the Joe Namath of tennis by many, “Broadway Vitas” occupied the red-hot center of tennis’ (and his native New York City’s) boom years of the 1970s, standing alongside such iconic superstars as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Ilie Nastase – each of whom was proud to call him a close friend.

Ranked as high as third in the world in singles, off the court Gerulaitis was second to none, burning the candle at both ends, marching in lockstep with Andy Warhol and the glittering nights of Manhattan’s world-famous Studio 54 disco club.  Yet by day the New Yorker gave his heart to his sport and pioneered the notion of using tennis as a way to make a difference in the world.  Gerulaitis’ life is an incredible story, a tale of rise and fall, redemption and tragedy.

“On court or off, Vitas Gerulaitis’ seemed to live his whole, outsized life in the headlines,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel.  “Through the warm recollections of his opponents – all of whom treasured him as a friend – Signature Series is able to take Tennis Channel viewers back to a time when Gerulaitis’ enjoyment of both tennis and life defined a unique period in the history of this sport.”

The film was shot and produced in high definition with hundreds of archival photos and rare video highlights.  The real insight, however, comes from interviews with Gerulaitis’ friends and rivals, including Connors, McEnroe (and his younger brother Patrick), Borg, John Lloyd, Mary Carillo and others.

Signature Series: Vitas Gerulaitis is the fifth edition in Tennis Channel’s ongoing Signature Series line, which debuted in 2009.  Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

Gerulaitis’ tennis resume is highlighted by the 1977 Australian Open singles championship and finals losses in the 1977 US Open and 1980 French Open, to childhood-friend McEnroe (John) and Borg, respectively.  In all, he posted a 510-221 career record, captured 25 singles titles and eight doubles crowns.  In 1990 a heating-system malfunction led to a carbon monoxide leak in the room where Gerulaitis was sleeping, causing his death at the age of 40.

Nadal Completes Career Grand Slam With Win Over Djokovic

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Hurling himself into the final ferocious forehands of the night like a fighter unleashing uppercuts with incisive intentions, Rafael Nadal took his shot at tennis history on the rise and completed his Grand Slam coronation in stirring style tonight.

Nadal captured his first career US Open championship to complete the career Grand Slam with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in the Flushing Meadows final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s more than I dreamt,” said Nadal, whose fingertips, still tinged with adhesive tape, tickled the shiny silver title trophy that eluded him for so long. “I know, for me, it’s a dream have the career Grand Slam, but this is more (of a) dream (to) have the US Open.  Is some moments unbelievable feeling because I worked a lot all my life, in all difficult moments to be here, but I never imagined have the four Grand Slams.”

On championship point, Nadal coaxed a final forehand error from Djokovic, watched Djokovic’s shot sail wide, dropped his Babolat racquet and fell flat on his back behind the baseline while camera flashes flickered continiously like a force of fireflies descending on Flushing Meadows to light up the night. Then he rolled over on his stomach, his palms pressing down on the court as if embracing the largest Grand Slam stage in the world in a heart-felt hug.

Throughout his career, the US Open was the one major title eluding him, but on this night, in this event, Nadal conquered the hard court once deemed to fast for game and brought more than 22,000 adoring fans along for the ride.

When it was over the appreciative Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd stood and gave both men a rousing ovation.

At the age of 24 years, 101 days, Nadal took another giant stride toward tennis immortality in becoming just the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam. Nadal is the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in succession. He is the third youngest man to complete the career Grand Slam after Don Budge (22 years, 357 days) and Laver (24 years, 32 days).

It is the ninth career major championship for Nadal, who is the first Spanish man since Manuel Orantes in 1975 to win the US Open. He spent some of the early years of his career as the second-seeded shadow to 16-time Grand Slam king Roger Federer. But now Nadal, five years Federer’s junior and owning a 14-7 career edge over the Swiss stylist in their head-to-head series, can stake a claim as one of the greatest players of all time. Should he he continue his winning pace, and there’s no one on the horizon who appears capable of slowing Nadal’s Roland Garros reign, can the muscular Mallorcan surpass Federer as the mythical Greatest Of All Time?

“Definitely,” Djokovic said without hesitation tonight. “He has the capabilities already now to become the best player ever.  I think he’s playing the best tennis that I ever seen him play on hardcourts.  He has improved his serve drastically.  The speed, the accuracy, and of course his baseline is as good as ever. So he’s a very complete player.”

Solidifying his status as the best big-match player in the sport, Nadal is 6-0 in his last six Grand Slam finals.

Racing so far behind the baseline he could have almost tapped the blue back wall with his racquet, Nadal ripped running backhand passes that left Djokovic shaking his head in disbelief at times.

The match featured six rallies of 20 more strokes and those punishing exchanges took a toll on Djokovic, whose depleted legs, drained from the five-set fight with five-time champion Roger Federer in the semifinals, looked like licorice by the early stages of the fourth set.

A rhythm player who actually seems to grow stronger as the match goes longer, Nadal was seemingly swinging with even more force as he saw the finish line in the fourth set.

A titanic topspin forehand down the line gave Nadal a double break point in the third game of the fourth set. Djokovic retaliated with his own ripping forehand down the line to save the first break point, but that shot was effectively the Belgrade baseliner’s last stand. A Djokovic forehand tripped on the tope of the tape and landed long as Nadal broke for 2-1.

Two games later, Nadal was at it again, pummeling punishing shots that hounded Djokovic like a pack of pit bulls unleashed on a trespasser. When Djokovic, who fought so hard for so long, flattened a forehand into the net, he hung his head falling into a 1-4 hole, wearing the weary resignation of a man well aware the dream was evaporating in the night air.

Djokovic was serving at 4-all, 30-all in the second set when the skies opened up and rain began pouring down. Tournament referee Brian Earley, clutching his ever-present walkie talkie came out quickly and acted decisively. “We’re going in. Take them in,” Earley told the security team, which escorted Nadal and Djokovic back into the locker room.

After a one hour, 57-minute rain delay, the players returned to the court at about 7:48 and Djokovic struck the serve that officially resumed play at 7:59.

Serving at 5-6, Nadal bumped a drop volley into net to fall to 30-all. Djokovic drilled a backhand down the line to draw an error and earn break point.

Reading the serve down the T, Djokovic moved right to cut off the angle and drove a forehand return down the middle that flirted with the front of the baseline. Forced to respond off his back foot, Nadal could only lift an off-balance forehand into the net as Djokovic broke to seze the second set.

Winding up for a windmill fist-pump, the veins bulging in Djokovic’s neck were visible from courtside as he trotted to his court-side seat deadlocked at one set apiece.

Sprinting seven feet behind the baseline, back in the territory typically occupied by ball kids, Nadal somehow angled a backhand pass crosscourt to earn triple break point at 0-40 in the third game of the third set. Djokovic erased the first with an ace and saved the second when Nadal netted a backhand. On the third break point, Djokovic slice a serve wide, drew the short ball he desired, but lifted a crosscourt forehand wide as Nadal broke for 2-1. Nadal quickly consolidated for 3-1.

Cranking up the pressure like as if tightening a tennis vise, Nadal earned five break points in the seventh game of the fourth set. Serving under immense pressure, Djokovic played with more aggression on the break points and time after time denied Nadal a second break. Attacking net, Djokovic saved a fifth break point when Nadal mis-fired on a backhand pass. A gam that featured 16 points and spanned more than 11 minutes finally ended when Nadal knocked a backhand into net.

Djokovic dug out a hard-fought hold for 3-4, but his legs and lungs paid a steep price.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Nadal went toe-to-toe with Djokovic in a demanding rally that spanned more than 20 shots. It ended with Djokovic clocking a crosscourt forehand winner. Another fierce forehand down the line drew Djokovic to 15-30.

A determined Djokovic ripped a forehand crosscourt drawing a Nadal backhand beyond the baseline as Djokovic broke at love for a 3-1 second-set lead screaming “Come on!” as his parents jumped out of their seats in support.

Nadal had been broken in just two of 91 games in the tournament, but Djokovic broke him twice in the first seven service games of the final.

Whipping his backhand down the line to set up his inside-out forehand, Djokovic hammered an inside-out forehand to hold at love for 4-1. The Serbian strung together 11 consecutive points and appeared to have the second set under control.

Nadal had other ideas.

The USTA announced total attendance for the US Open was 712,976 total attendance.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Successful Doubles Teams in US Open Gallery Exhibition, Tennis Twosomes: Doubles Teams Across the Eras

NEWPORT, R.I., August 25, 2010 – The International Tennis Hall of Fame will highlight the intricacies of the doubles game and the achievements of the greatest doubles teams in tennis history in a special exhibition at the US Open entitled Tennis Twosomes: Doubles Teams Across the Eras. Among the many teams featured in the exhibit will be Class of 2010 Hall of Fame Inductees Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva, Todd Woodbridge & Mark Woodforde, and mixed doubles star Owen Davidson. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the US Open will be open daily, August 30 – September 12, and admission is complimentary for guests attending the US Open. New this year, the gallery is located in the SmashZone at the Indoor Training Center.

“Doubles is a fascinating discipline of the game, and building a partnership that can attain significant success is a commendable achievement. This exhibit is a fitting tribute to the game and its players. It appropriately tops off an exciting year that has been marked by great doubles moments, including the Hall of Fame induction of five doubles stars and the record-setting victory achieved by the Bryan brothers,” said Mark L. Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. “We’re pleased to offer this gallery, a small taste of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, as part of the US Open experience for tennis fans.”

The exhibit will showcase more than 125 years of doubles competition, ranging from James Dwight & Richard Sears, who won 5 of the first 7 US Open titles in the 1880s – when the event was known as the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championships – through Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan, who set the new record for most doubles wins in history when they captured their 62nd victory together in August of this year.

In addition to the recent Hall of Fame inductees, more than 25 teams are featured in the exhibit, including Ernest Renshaw & William Renshaw, Laurie Doherty & Reggie Doherty, John Newcombe & Tony Roche, Owen Davidson & Billie Jean King, Margaret Smith Court & Marty Riessen, Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver, Peter Fleming & John McEnroe, and Serena Williams & Venus Williams. By showcasing the success of the greatest doubles teams, the exhibit explores the intricacies of the doubles discipline, a unique game that is often compared to the institution of marriage. The most successful teams function as a single unit. Each half of the unit believes in the other, trusts in the other. They enhance each other’s strengths and mask the other’s weaknesses. They recognize verbal and non-verbal cues with equal ease, and they pick each other up when they are down. They are in perfect sync. But being in perfect sync is not enough to make a successful doubles duo. Each partner needs to have the skill set that pays dividends in the doubles arena. They instinctively know when to poach at the net or the perfect moment to hit the clean winner up the alley. They must possess the quickest of reflexes for exciting volley exchanges and be able to generate impossible angles. Most importantly, each partner knows how to move with the other, rarely leaving any portion of the court vulnerable to attack.

Tennis Twosomes: Doubles Teams Across the Eras celebrates some of the most successful doubles partnerships in the history of the game. From the Renshaws and Dohertys, to the “Woodies,” Bryan brothers and Williams sisters, tennis is filled with teams who have put it together, persevered through the highs and lows, and have written their names into the history books of tennis.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum highlights the history of tennis from its 12th century origins through present-day, as well as the fascinating life stories of the game’s greatest athletes and industry contributors. The extensive collection features vintage tennis equipment, video highlights and iconic photos, tennis apparel ranging from Victorian dresses to modern fashions, tennis inspired paintings and fine arts, and memorabilia from remarkable moments as recent as the current-year Grand Slams. Changing exhibits and special exhibitions, similar to Tennis Twosomes: Doubles Teams Across the Eras, are displayed year-round in the Museum.

For additional information about the exhibit at the US Open or about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, please visit tennisfame.com.

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners, such as BNP Paribas. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

Tuesday Results & Wednesday Order of Play for Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

NEWPORT, R.I., July 6, 2010 - Americans and top seeds Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish and Rajeev Ram were among the players to advance today when first round competition at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships continued in Newport, R.I. Nicolas Mahut, who famously played in the longest match in tennis history last month, also advanced, following an 83-minute match in which he defeated Columbia’s Alejandro Falla, whose own Wimbledon match was a grueling 198-minute battle with Roger Federer. Querrey, who won his first grass-court title last month at Queen’s Club and was a finalist in Newport last summer, defeated countryman Jesse Levine in straight sets. In another all-American match up, Fish defeated Michael Russell. In today’s final Center Court match, defending champion Rajeev Ram overcame Spain’s Ivan Navarro.

The action continues tomorrow with Fish facing India’s Somdev Devvarman first on Center Court, followed by No. 1 seed Sam Querry versus Jamaican Dustin Brown. Nicolas Mahut returns to Center Court for the third match, when he will face Canada’s Frank Dancevic. Wednesday’s final match on Center Court will be an All-American contest between 18-year-old Ryan Harrison and 17-year-old Denis Kudla, who both received wild cards for the tournament.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of the Order of Play for Wednesday, July 7.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of the Singles Main Draw.
Click here for a downloadable PDF of the Doubles Main Draw.

Following are Tuesday’s results and the Order of Play for Wednesday, July 7.

RESULTS – JULY 6, 2010
Singles – First Round
[1] S Querrey (USA) d J Levine (USA) 63 63
[2] S Giraldo (COL) d [Q] A Peya (AUT) 76(1) 16 64
[WC] N Mahut (FRA) d [3] A Falla (COL) 63 16 63
[5] M Fish (USA) d M Russell (USA) 61 62
[7] R Ram (USA) d I Navarro (ESP) 63 76(3)
B Dabul (ARG) d C Ball (AUS) 57 62 01 Retired
[Q] S Bubka (UKR) d C Guccione (AUS) 76(0) 64
[Q] R Klaasen (RSA) d I Bozoljac (SRB) 76(5) 76(0)
S Devvarman (IND) d K Kim (USA) 64 63
[WC] D Kudla (USA) d S Ventura (ESP) 63 36 75
[Q] R Bloomfield (GBR) d C Rochus (BEL) 76(1) 63

Doubles – First Round
T Bednarek (POL) / D Brown (JAM) d S Giraldo (COL) / O Rochus (BEL) 76(13) 62
N Mahut (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d A Falla (COL) / S Prieto (ARG) 67(2) 76(4) 10-5
M Kohlmann (GER) / A Peya (AUT) d K Beck (SVK) / R Wassen (NED) 64 64

CENTER start 11:00 a.m.
[5] M Fish (USA) vs S Devvarman (IND)
[1] S Querrey (USA) vs D Brown (JAM)
F Dancevic (CAN) vs [WC] N Mahut (FRA)
[WC] R Harrison (USA) vs [WC] D Kudla (USA)
COURT 1 start 11:00 a.m.
B Dabul (ARG) vs G Soeda (JPN)
[Q] R Klaasen (RSA) vs [7] R Ram (USA)
[Q] R Bloomfield (GBR) vs [2] S Giraldo (COL)
[1] M Fish (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs C Ball (AUS) / C Guccione (AUS)
M Gicquel (FRA) / S Ventura (ESP) vs [2] R Ram (USA) / J Rojer (AHO)

COURT 2 start 11:00 a.m.
[3] R Hutchins (GBR) / J Kerr (AUS) vs J Erlich (ISR) / S Lipsky (USA)
J Marray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) vs [WC] J Cerretani (USA) / A Shamasdin (CAN)
[4] O Rochus (BEL) vs [Q] S Bubka (UKR)
[WC] S Huss (AUS) / J Sirianni (AUS) vs [4] S Gonzalez (MEX) / T Rettenmaier (USA)

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About the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

The Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event, will be held July 5 – 11, 2010 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The tournament draws 32 top male players to Newport direct from Wimbledon to compete for the Van Alen Cup and $442,500 in prize money. Hosted on the legendary grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is the only ATP World Tour event played on grass in North America. In conjunction with the tournament, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will host the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, July 10. The Campbell Soup Company is the title sponsor of the tournament In addition, the tournament is made possible through the generous support of numerous Official Partners, including BNP Paribas, Corona Extra, Chubb Personal Insurance and Rolex Watch U.S.A. For additional information, visit www.tennisfame.com

Federer and Roddick to do it once more

A familiar face will be standing in Roger Federer’s way if he plans to make tennis history in Sunday’s Wimbledon final- his seventh straight.

American Andy Roddick made his first final at the All England Club since losing for a second straight year back in 2005 to Federer. After the five-time Wimbledon champ disposed of German Tommy Haas in a close three sets, the 26 year-old Roddick showed great form in besting England’s new hope Andy Murray- winning a tight four setter 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5).

Tremendous match by Andy in a Davis Cup atmosphere with most of Centre Court pulling for the 22 year-old Scot to finally erase the demons. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait another year for him to try to become the first Great Brit to win there since Fred Perry (1936).

That was due to Roddick, who played arguably the finest match of his career outslugging Murray from the baseline while also being the aggressor winning 64 percent from the net (48 of 75) including a gutsy volley winner that saved a set point in the third breaker. It turned out to be the difference along with his powerful, accurate serve with him making 75 percent of first serves and winning 77 percent. Murray didn’t serve poorly by any means but only made 52 percent first serves even though he won a higher percentage (83).

The difference was a more focused Roddick was better on the bigger points. What was most impressive is that he came up with the kind of hitting from both sides of the racket we haven’t seen with him remaining steady hitting through the backhand while producing some sizzling crosscourt forehands to take control of points.

All the more stunning was that Murray outaced Roddick 25-21 and even finished with 12 more winners (Murray-76, Roddick-64) in what was one of the cleanest matches you’ll see. There weren’t many mistakes as Roddick had 24 unforced errors while Murray committed 20. This was just pure tennis with both guys competing at a very high level.

That Roddick stayed with the plan attacking the net with vigor when he had the opportunity proved to be the difference. He really picked his spots well and stuck his volleys. Sure. Murray passed him a bunch with some mesmerizing shots that make you believe he’ll be winning slams soon enough. Maybe even at this year’s U.S. Open. But the constant pressure from Andy made it tough on the best returner in the game.

That along with the huge serving kept the his 22 year-old younger foe from taking firm control. Each man broke twice with both able to trade 6-4 scores the first two sets. In the third’s opening game, Roddick dugout of love-40 frustrating Murray, who was broken a few games later. But with Andy serving for the set, he tightened and Murray broke back getting it to a tiebreaker. But the 2009 leader didn’t break saving set point with a mishit volley winner and then claiming the set on a well played point to pull within one of his third Wimbledon final.

The fourth set was even more dramatic with neither big man cracking as each held serve with more pressure on Roddick staying in the set twice to force another breaker. Early in it, he got a minibreak when Murray misfired drawing groans from the crowd. But the feisty Scot fought back coming up with a huge backhand crosscourt winner to save one match point. But just when it seemed he’d get it back even, a hustling Roddick got a wicked first serve back eventually getting in the point.

When the opportunity arose, he took it hitting a big forehand cross approach which a scattering Murray hit short into the net, giving the emotional American a date with destiny.

To be honest, the last couple of years, I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to play for another Grand Slam title,” Roddick said holding back tears while model wife Brooklyn Decker cheered on her man. “Now I get to. It’s just a dream.

“If he serves like that, he’s got a chance against anyone,” Murray acknowledged after seeing his head-to-head record versus Roddick slip to 6-3.

Now, he’ll be the last one standing in the way of history with Federer looking to eclipse former American great Pete Sampras by capturing a record 15th grand slam. A year after Rafael Nadal broke his heart, can he do it against a close rival who he’s lost just two matches to in 20 times?

“I’ve had plenty of time to study his game, to understand his game,” Federer said. “He’s always played me also quite differently every single time.”

“Obviously you can’t really say enough to kind of signify what Roger’s career has been to this point,” Roddick said while appropriately adding:

“I’d love to delay it for another Grand Slam.”

It will be Federer’s 20th career Grand Slam final. Will it be lucky this Fourth of July weekend?

I’m very proud of all the records I’ve achieved, because I never thought I would be that successful as a kid. You know, I would have been happy winning a couple tournaments and maybe collecting Wimbledon,” the 27-year-old Federer said.

“It’s quite staggering.”

Federer Gets Career Slam at Roland Garros

Tennis history was finally made today in Paris when Roger Federer finally won the one grand slam title that had eluded him- laying claim to the greatest of all-time with a straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 win over surprising No.23 Swede finalist Robin Soderling to capture the French Open.

At age 27, Federer becomes just the sixth man to win all four slams completing the career slam. The Swiss Maestro joins exclusive company that includes Rod Laver, Don Budge, Fred Perry, Roy Emerson and the last man who did it exactly 10 years ago fittingly presenting him with the trophy, Andre Agassi.

Facing the man who upset four-time French Open champ Rafael Nadal, nothing was going to stop Federer from finally making history not only becoming the sixth man to win all four slams but tying Pete Sampras’ slam record 14. Wimbledon is three weeks away and with it comes the distinct possibility that Roger can break the record at the place he’s won five times (2003-07) before his biggest rival Rafa got him at arguably the greatest final ever seen.

Does anyone not want to see the rematch pitting this time Nadal as No.1 vs Federer No.2 with it all on the line? Of course, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic could have something to say about it. I still wouldn’t count out Andy Roddick, who had his best showing at Roland Garros making the Round of 16 before Gael Monfils took him out in straights. Andy has played better this year staying in longer rallies and volleying more. But he’ll be a lower seed which means a likely tougher road. Could he face a Nadal, Federer, Murray or Djokovic in an intriguing quarter? Who knows.

Today though is about Federer, who was simply brilliant finishing with 16 aces, only two doubles while smacking 58 winners to only 24 unforced errors.  He served remarkably well and took advantage of a nervous Soderling, who’d never been past the third round in any slam until his great run the past two weeks. Credit the 24 year-old Swede for at least fighting the last two sets. He finally started serving better and hitting some of those big shots we saw against Nadal that also enabled him to rally from 1-4 down in the fifth past Fernando Gonzalez in the semis. But as he later said during the trophy presentation, Roger was simply too good today.

The toughest moment for him actually came when a crazy spectator ran on the court approaching Federer with a flag before Roland Garros security surrounded the idiot. The best part was when one security guard finally tackled him on Soderling’s side of the court. Just nuts. See for yourself:

Yikes. Who knows what this nutball was thinking? We already had that sick German attack Monica Seles in Hamburg ruining her career. Insanity. Thankfully, nothing bad happened with security responding swiftly.

And so Federer is now in a class by himself with the heavy weight finally lifted off his shoulders. How will Wimbledon go? Nadal pulled out of the Queens Club tuneup. Is he doing so to rest a little more from a very busy schedule? All I know is I want to see another classic final between the two best players the sport has.

Congratulations Roger!!!!! :-D