Sunday, January 28, 2007

Roger I: 10-Time Grand Slam Champion

Roger Federer d. Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4

A Perfect 10
WITH HIS straight-set victory over Fernando Gonzalez in the final of the Australian Open, Roger Federer became the first male player since Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros in 1980 to win a Grand Slam singles title without dropping a set.

Feña almost ruined the Last King of Switzerland’s perfection. Serving for the first set at 40-15, the Chilean, who entered the match with 177 more winners than unforced errors, missed a forehand into the top of the tape, a forehand he had made time and time again throughout the fortnight. But pressure can be a bitch. He pulled up on the shot, allowing Federer to stay in the game, which he took on his first break point of the set. After a lengthy twelfth game that went to deuce more times than I remember, Feña saved two set points, but meekly lost the set in the tiebreak 7 points to 2.

Swirling wind wreaked havoc on the match. Neither player wowed with the consistently scintillating tennis they brought to bear in the semifinals. The women’s champion Serena Williams, who studied tapes of Feña’s matches throughout the fortnight, so impressed was she by his level of play, stayed around to watch the final live from the stands. (So much for her lack of commitment to the sport!) She commented to Pam Shriver that Feña wasn’t playing the kind of tennis that brought him to his first Slam final and was hanging around too much on the Melbourne letters about 10 feet behind the baseline. Still, he managed to compete as best he could and only dropped his serve once in each of the remaining two sets, ensuring Federer his march toward breaking all the records in the history books.

For his great effort throughout the fortnight, Gonzalez will move to a career-high No. 5 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Making History
With 10 slam titles, Roger ties Bill Tilden for fifth place on the all-time Grand Slam titles list. This is also the second time in his career that he’s won three Slams in a row.

With the Australian Open under his belt, he will focus on winning his first Roland Garros title, which would secure him a Grand Slam and put him on course for a true calendar-year Grand Slam as well.

With Queen Serena back in rare form and already focused on clay and King Roger’s continued dominance, perhaps 2007 will be the first year in tennis history that both a male and female player bag the calendar-year Grand Slam.

Stay tuned.

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