Federer’s Paris perfection may take time to sink in


Paris : It will take a day or two for the enormity of his first French Open title to sink in for Roger Federer, with the Swiss now forced to shift attention from the clay of Paris to the brief grass-court season starting Monday.

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As plans now stand, the number two who lifted his Roland Garros crown at the weekend in three sets over surprise Swede Robin Soderling, is due to defend his grass title this week in Halle, Germany.

But Federer also has some mental decompression to go through after a gruelling fortnight which landed him his joint-record 14th Grand Slam title.

“I had to play four finals against Haas, Del Potro, Monfils, and Soderling,” said the Swiss, speaking of his last four matches in the trophy run on clay. “The pressure is so big. People really wanted me to win.

“It was very difficult to manage all this. This is why I’m very tired right now. I think it’s going to take me a bit of time to sort of accept this victory.

“It came as a surprise in the end because I’ve never won here, but the feelings were great, absolutely great. I think it might take me a bit more time to realise that I made it.”

Nevertheless, the 27-year-old who stands alongside Pete Sampras as the biggest winner in the history of the sport, says his wait for Roland Garros glory was worth it after losing the last three finals to Rafael Nadal, Soderling’s fourth-round victim.

“Having to wait gives you more pleasure. My first victory, Wimbledon in 2003, that was a shock. Later on, you know what it’s like winning, managing pressure, walking on the central courts, with the press, having sponsors, being rich and famous.

“Your life changes.”

Federer says his was never the same after lifting the first of five straight Wimbledon titles until losing to Nadal on the grass last July in the final.

“The satisfaction is huge winning here in Paris after I was so close many times in a row. So it was the optimal moment for me to win Roland Garros.”

Federer admitted that as a child, Paris didn’t figure into his tennis fantasies.

“My dream when I was a kid was to win in Wimbledon on grass, I was not dreaming I would win here. This is something I hoped, but I can’t tell you I had any image in my head of how I would win.

“Then I was so close and I saw Rafa winning (2005-2008), and so I hoped I will achieve that one day. I was almost sure I would be kneeling on the court if I was to win here.”

While he’s not obsessed about setting more records – one more Grand Slam title would leave him alone as the player with the most major crowns – he’s not averse to it either.

“I’m still playing, I haven’t retired yet, and I think I still have many more tournaments to go and many more Grand Slams. I’ll give it my best shot to have the best possible career.

“I’m not addicted by beating all possible records, but I’m very proud of them.

“I hope I can maintain records I have going at the moment, and I hope to break some other ones along the way. I hope to stay healthy, of course. That’s most important. Because motivation and drive is not a problem for me it seems.”