Roger Federer has ended his French Open hoodoo at Roland Garros this afternoon after beating Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 6-4.
If the Swiss star has drawn level with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slam titles after claiming the Coupe des Mousquetaires in the French capital.
Federer now boasts a 10-0 career record against Soderling.
Death and taxes, they really are life’s only certainties. Few would have backed against Rafael Nadal claiming another French Open title, while Federer had been written off despite a recent victory against the Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open.
A knee injury that emerged after his defeat and the emasculating effect of being forced to wear a pink shirt by his sponsor conspired against Rafa Nadal winning a fourth consecutive title and made Federer’s task conceivable easier.
But the Swiss’ ability to rally from a series of mini-slumps over the past 12 months has been nothing short of extraordinary.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumours of his decline have been greatly exaggerated, and a bid for a sixth Wimbledon title is very much on course.
Andre Agassi, the champion 10 years ago was on hand to make the presentation.
R Soderling v R Federer 1-6 6-7 4-6
4-6 Roger Federer wins the French Open for the first time and sinks to his knees on the French dirt that has frustrated him for so long. Soderling had a break point in an understandably nervous service game for Federer, but the Swiss held out.
4-5 Soderling holds, but a half-volley on the Federer backhand produces one of the best winners of the match. Federer now serves for the Championship.
3-5 A nervy Federer holds courtesy of a superb kick serve to the Soderling backhand.
3-4 Soderling holds, but it still feels as if we’re heading towards an inevitable conclusion to the match. Neither player has truly shined under the grey skies in Paris.
2-4 It’s easy to forget what a superb all-round athlete Federer is. Fed holds as both players lift their games. His hand speed and athleticism around the court have ensured that he has retrieved balls others haven’t.
2-3 Soderling holds convincingly to 15.
1-3 Soderling blows a superb chance to break Federer. The Swede’s tentative play has compromised his chances all afternoon and the swashbuckling approach that got him to the final has been neutralised by the presence of a legend at the other side of the net.
1-2 Soderling drops one point on serve as the rain return to Roland Garros.
0-2 Federer holds, while Soderling’s consolation from the match is to win the outstanding rally of the match.
0-1 Fed breaks in the very first game of the set. Soderling isn’t up to the pace and Fed takes advantage.
6-7 Fed earns a mini-break on the third and six points of the breaker and serves impeccably to take the breaker 7-1. The final point sees Fed fire a superb ace and release a primeval roar. The end is nigh.
6-6 Fed gets to deuce on the Soderling serve in a game which features a superb passing shot from Fed. The Swede is cranking up the massive forehand that got him to the final, but where was it for the first set and a half? A 215kph serve and an error on the Fed forehand forces a tiebreaker.
5-6 Fed holds to love as the rain lashes down on Centre Court.
5-5 Soderling holds to love. A much tighter match in the second set has been characterised by dominant service games from both players.
4-5 Fed holds. It’s not pretty and the wind and cold have curtailed the natural flamboyance of both players; ball tosses are lower, backswings on groundstrokes are being shortened and unforced errors are more commonplace than could otherwise be expected.
4-4 The wind and rain could lead to a delay in proceeding, but it’s doubtful Soderling will want to come off court now that he has got into the second set.
3-4 Federer’s use of the drop shot has been a revelation in this tournament. Such is the man’s brilliance and desire for perfection that for too long he failed to use a shot he regarded as lazy. ‘Beauty will save the world,’ wrote Dostoyevsky and that’s how Fed plays his tennis, but sometimes it’s a case of need must and the drop shot has proven a vital weapon in the Fed armoury during the last two weeks. Fed holds serve.
3-3 Soderling seems to be warming to the task and holds as Federer fails to make inroads on his opponent’s serve.
2-3 Federer prevails in a shaky service game. The world number two appears to be plaing a long way below his brilliant best, but the abject display from Soderling means it’s a contest in name only.
2-2 Some geezer dressed as Rafa Nadal manages to make his way on to the court during the fourth game of the set. His motive is uncler, if he’s a streaker, he’s a painfully shy one as he is still fully clothed. Soderling isn’t distracted and holds impressively for a change.
1-2 The career head to head record has proven illuminating and Federer seems to know where Soderling will hit the ball before the Swede does. The court seems to be playing slower than at any other time in the previous two week. Federer’s wife Mirka yawns, maybe she was out with the watering can last night.
1-1 Soderling holds for the second time in the match as he targets the Federer backhand.
0-1 The second set begins in much the same fashion as the first was played and Soderlings only point on the Fed serve comes from a double fault.
1-6 Fed claims the first set in comprehensive fashion. A desperate Soderling has been forced into coming to the net, but the quality of his approach shots means Federer has little trouble in passing the Swede. An ominous start.
1-5 Soderling’s timing and footwork are preventing him from getting to grips with Federer, as the Swiss cruises through another service game without the loss of a point.
1-4 Soderling gets off the board with a solid service game, but the Swede has been forced to trade a series of slow sliced shots with Federer, in stark contrast to the booming groundstrokes that got him to the final.
0-4 Federer records his second ace, makes an unforced error from his backhand, but Soderling return the favour with a number of erratic forehands. Soderling has failed to fire in spectacular fashion.
0-3 Soderling’s passage to the final was characterised by strong starts to his matches and his slim chance of victory may be disappearing after just three games. A Fed mishit to the Soderling backhand drops in making it 0-3.
0-2 After making the worst possible start, Soderling makes no impact on Fed’s opening service game. He fails to win a point on the Fed serve as the Swiss maestro takes the game with a sublime drop shot.
0-1 Both players get off to tentative starts, Soderling falling behind 0-30 before a couple of Fed errors restore parity but the world number two is gifted the opening game when Soderling double faults.
Matchtracker by RTÉ.ie’s Barry McEneaney.