Monday, June 8, 2009

French Open 2009: Federer Equals Sampras Record

Men’s Singles
Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated Robin Soderling, tied Pete Sampras and won the French Open at Paris on June 7, 2009. Undeterred by an on-court intruder, Federer beat surprise finalist Soderling 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 to complete a career Grand Slam and win his 14th major title, matching Sampras' record. On his fourth try at Roland Garros, Federer became the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships.

The supportive crowd included Andre Agassi, the most recent man to complete a career Grand Slam when he won at Roland Garros 10 years ago. Playing in cool, windy weather and occasional rain, Federer raced to a quick lead, sweeping the first four games. Soderling appeared nervous at the start of his first Grand Slam final, and Federer kept him scrambling with penetrating groundstrokes to both corners and an occasional drop shot.

Federer's progress to the title was briefly delayed in the second set. The match was between points when a spectator waving a flag climbed through the photographer's pit and onto Federer's side of the court.

Federer backed away toward the backstop, but the fan caught up with him and tried to put a hat on Federer's head. Security personnel seemed slow to react before chasing the man to the other side of the court, and he was tackled, then carried out. There was silence from the stunned crowd, then a chant of "Ro-ger! Ro-ger!" when the episode ended. Federer adjusted his headband, Soderling gave him a thumbs-up sign and play resumed. Soderling's strokes steadied, and he pushed the second set to 6-all. But Federer played a brilliant tiebreaker, hitting aces on all four of his service points, and Soderling could only smile ruefully.
Federer won his 14th Grand Slam championship at age 27. Sampras, who never reached a French Open final, was 31 when he won his last major title. Federer will try for No. 15 beginning in two weeks at Wimbledon, which he has won five times.

Federer has also won the US Open the past five years, and he has three Australian Open titles. Besides Federer and Agassi, the other men to win all four Grand Slams tournaments were Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson.

Women’s Singles
Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-2 in an all-Russian final of the French Open on Saturday to take away her second Grand Slam title. It was a comprehensive win for the 23-year-old seventh seed who lost in the final here in 2006 to Justine Henin two years after she stunned the world of tennis by winning the US Open as a 19-year-old.

It was the 14th time the two had met as professionals, Safina leading 8-5, but they go further back than that having been rivals in Russia in girls’ tournaments as they were growing up. With con OR KU ditons cold, damp and overcast and the Court Philippe Chatrier three-quarters full, Safina was quickest out of the blocks breaking Kuznetsova to 15.

But the younger of the two 23-year-olds surrendered that advantage immediately with a nervy service game that included a double fault and two unforced errors.

Safina was in trouble on serve again at 2-3 down when a double fault and a deft Kuznetsova drop shot left her at 0-30, but she came out on top of a marathon rally and then took the next three points to level the score.

Two games later though UZNETS and on the back of another double fault, the Muscovite went 0-40 down. She saved the first two of those breakpoints but was left flat-footed by a raking Kuznetsova backhand drive on the third.

The St Petersburg-born player, however, failed to cash in, dropping her serve for the second time in the next game. That mattered little though as she struck again in the following game, staggering Safina by running round her backhand to hit an outright winner and then forcing the world No.1 into slapping a forehand into the net. Kuznetsova held serve to open the second set and Safina was beginning to SOVA berate herself for allowing her less powerful rival for the crown to dominate most of their rallies.

India’s Leander Paes won his ninth Grand Slam title when he and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy overcame a first set lapse to tame Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman in the final of the French Open men's doubles on June 6.

The third seeded Indo-Czech pair defeated the giant-killing South African-Belgian pair 3-6 6-3 6-2 to win their first Grand Slam title together.

It is almost after a gap of three years that Paes has won men's doubles title at a Major, since winning the 2006 US Open with Martin Damm.

After losing the first set, Paes and Dlouhy staged a brilliant comeback and completely overwhlemed Moodie-Norman, who had upset second seeded Americans Mike and Bob Bryan in the semifinals.

The Indo-Czech duo then staged a remarkable comeback in the second set riding on a double break — in the second and fourth games. They raced away to a 5-0 lead and it looked they will blank their opponents but Paes was broken when he was serving for the set.

However they had such a good lead that they comfortably drew parity and stretched the match to the decisive third set. As the momentum was on their side, they yet again broke their rivals twice — in the third and seventh games — to close out the match. Paes and Dlouhy won exactly a year after they first came together at the Roland Garros.

The third seeded Indian-Czech combine took their second title of the year after Rotterdam, and a semifinal appearance at the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

Paes was hit on his eye when left-handed Norman sprayed a high forehand volley straight towards the Indian ace. Fortunately, that did not harm Paes much and he returned to court after receiving the ice treatment.

It was 35-year-old Paes’s fifth men’s Grand Slam doubles title having won twice here in 1999 and 2001 with Mahesh Bhupathi, 1999 Wimbledon with Bhupathi and the 2006 US Open with Martin Damm. The Indian also has four Grand Slam mixed doubles crowns.

In the women’s doubles final on June 5, Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, the third seeds, trounced the 12th seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.

Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan of the United States beat Vania King of the United States and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 5-7, 7-6 (5), 10-7 to win the mixed doubles championship.

For Huber, it is her first mixed doubles Grand Slam title. She has won four women’s doubles major championships.

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