Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Roger Federer marched into the history books Sunday by winning his first French Open title and tying Pete Sampras atop the all-time Grand Slam leader board with 14.
Federer easily handled Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 to win the one championship that had eluded him throughout his magnificent career.
He became the sixth man ever to win the career Grand Slam, following Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi.
Agassi presented Federer with his championship trophy and Soderling with his runner-up plate.
A jubilant Federer, 27, then addressed the crowd in both French and English, thanking his wife and his parents and paying homage to Soderling and Agassi.
John McEnroe, working for NBC, proclaimed Federer “the greatest of all time.”
“It is absolutely amazing,” Federer told McEnroe on court. “It is I guess the most satisfying victory of my life, right next to my first Wimbledon. There was so much pressure involved and for so many years I’ve been trying to get it and to get it is just unbelievable.”
He added: “Obviously it feels nice. I’ve always been very proud to be called one of the greatest of all time. I’ve had so many Grand Slams. I’ve had so many dominant seasons. It’s just hard to do.
“Am I the greatest of all time? I don’t know. Now I’ve finally won all four Grand Slams.”
Federer said Sampras, whom he played last year in a series of exhibitions, had been in touch via text.
“I’m sure Pete is watching,” Federer said. “I’m sure he’s happy for me. He’s been texting me all the time so he’s happy for me. I’m happy to be here with him.”
Federer had lost the last three French finals to Spaniard Rafael Nadal. But Soderling stunned Nadal in this year’s tournament, knocking out the four-time defending champ and handing him his first loss ever in Paris.
“First I want to congratulate Roger,” said Soderling, who dropped to 0-10 against Federer. “You really gave me a lesson in how to play tennis today. To me you are the greatest player in history so you really deserve to win this title.”
Soderling, seeded No. 23, was appearing in his first Slam final and seemed overwhelmed by the moment in the first set. Federer moved him for side to side with groundstrokes into the corners and also broke out a deadly touch drop shot on several occasions.
“It’s a new situation for me to play a Grand Slam final and to play the best player of all time, it’s tough,” he said.
Federer will seek his record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, which begins June 22. Nadal, the defending Wimbledon champ, may miss that event because of a knee problem, according to his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal.
“We have taken him out of the Queen’s tournament (June 8-14) and will do everything possible to get him there, but this is subject to medical tests,” Toni Nadal said.
“There is something wrong with his knee but right now we are uncertain what the problem is,” he added.
Nadal is currently resting at his home town of Manacor on the island of Mallorca and will undergo detailed medical tests from Monday.
GRAND SLAM SCORECARDMAJOR VICTORIES
Roger Federer – 14
Pete Sampras – 14
Roy Emerson – 12
Rod Laver – 11
Bjorn Borg – 11
Bill Tilden – 10
WON CAREER GRAND SLAM
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.