Monday, June 08, 2009

All hail Roger Federer

At last people can stop debating about just how truly great Roger Federer is. With yesterday’s thoroughly deserved win at Roland Garros he now has all four Grand Slam titles under his belt. He may have benefited from Nadal having been knocked out in round four, but in beating Nadal’s conqueror, Robin Soderling, he did the next best thing.

Ominously for everyone else, Roger talks about being at peace without suggesting for a moment he’s ready to wind his remarkable career down: his failure to win the French Open because of Nadal’s seemingly invulnerability on the Paris clay must have surely started to eat away at him, particularly after Nadal took his Wimbledon crown and beat him in Australia. However, with Nadal’s knees now starting to cause concern (there are those who think Nadal’s career will be shortened considerably because of the way he plays), Roger may well find himself outlasting the Spaniard – and if they do come together in the final at Roland Garros next year, it’ll be interesting to see if we have a much closer contest.

Of course, there are those who claim that until Roger beats Rafa at Paris he can’t claim to be the greatest player of all time. Excuse me? While Rafa has an excellent head-to-head record in Grand Slam finals against Roger, he has still lost twice to him at Wimbledon, and I suspect that winning the French and equalling Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam record will give Roger the spur he needs to start redressing the balance, particularly if he’s in the position to deny Rafa his own Grand Slam in the US Open final. And for all Rafa’s brilliance, can he claim to have reached 20 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals as Roger has done? It’s easy to forget that since only making the semis in Melbourne in 2008, Roger has competed in the last five Grand Slam finals in a row.

Of course, all this assumes the rest of the pack can’t chase them down – Murray seems best place to mount a challenge to both, but having willed Roger to win in France, I’m now fearful he won’t gracefully fade away to allow a few other players gain a shot at winning Grand Slam titles!

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