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Thread: Tennis-Soderling and miracle forehand rescue Federer

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    SB Addict gobind's Avatar
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    Default Tennis-Soderling and miracle forehand rescue Federer

    Roger Federer

    Tennis-Soderling and miracle forehand rescue Federer

    No Nadal, no excuses! Those are the words that could have haunted Roger

    Federer for the rest of his life if he had let the French Open crown slip from

    his grasp on Sunday.

    Luckily for him, Swede Robin Soderling, and a miracle forehand winner in a

    fourth-round thriller against Tommy Haas helped the Swiss on his way to

    becoming only the sixth man to complete a career grand slam of all four major


    When Soderling ended Rafael Nadal's four-year Paris reign eight days ago in

    the fourth round, Federer had been expected to grab his golden opportunity

    with both hands.

    Except less than 24 hours later, it seemed Roland Garros would be shaken by

    an aftershock of similar magnitude as Federer was on the verge of suffering

    his earliest grand slam loss since 2004 when he came within five points of


    At two sets and 3-4 down facing a break point, Federer conjured up a

    screaming forehand winner to bring the scores back to deuce. That earned

    Federer his get-out-of-jail-free card.

    The American holed out from 40 yards off the green with a delicate chip that

    fed back 25 feet down the slope.

    The ball appeared to teeter tantalisingly over the edge of the hole before, a

    second later, it dropped into the cup.

    That shot put Woods two strokes clear and he eventually closed the deal at

    the first extra hole.

    Just as Woods had described that moment to be the "turning point" of his

    campaign, Federer also pinned down his title charge to that one moment of

    magic against Haas.

    "If you want to put it down to one point, let's put it down to that one,"

    Federer, who also drew level with Pete Sampras's overall record of 14 grand

    slam titles, said after beating Soderling 6-1 7-6 6-4.

    That point aside, it has been the most excruciating and jittery journey for

    Federer towards a grand slam title.

    "These were two long weeks but especially the last one, because it was as if

    I had to play four finals against Haas, (Juan Martin) del Potro, (Gael) Monfils,

    and Soderling. The pressure is so big," said the world number two, who was

    beaten by Nadal in three successive Paris finals from 2006.

    Recalling Sunday's final, he added: "It was very hard mentally for me to stay

    within the match during the match, because my mind was always wondering,

    what if? What if I win this tournament? What does that mean? What will I

    possibly say? I don't know.

    "I was very nervous at the beginning of the third set because I realised how

    close I was. The last game... was almost unplayable for me because I was

    just hoping to serve some good serves and hoping that he was going to make

    four errors. It was that bad. It was an emotional roller coaster for me."

    In his previous 13 assaults to grand slam titles he had never lost more than

    five sets at a single event. He dropped six in Paris but then never before had

    the stakes been higher.

    With Nadal stalking him at every grand slam, including at his beloved

    Wimbledon where he lost an epic five-setter to the Spaniard last year, it

    looked as if Federer would remain a member of the three-slam club. One

    which boasts members such as John McEnroe and Pete Sampras but a club

    Federer dearly wanted to escape from.

    However, time was running out since by the time the claycourt grand slam

    would have come around in 2010, Federer would have been 28, he would

    have the distractions of coping with a baby and Nadal would be back buzzing

    around his head and stinging him with his wicked forehands.

    When Soderling took care of the Spaniard a week ago, Federer's luck

    changed and the Swiss acknowledged the timing could not be better.

    "It's definitely nice to get it at this stage of my career. I think it couldn't

    have come at a better time," he said. "So obviously the timing is very special

    with getting married and Mirka being pregnant."

    As for his place among the all-time greats, he added: "I think it should be

    judged at the very end. How well did I do? Good? Great? Very good? Or

    medium? It's for other people to decide.

    "I am not addicted by beating all possible records but I'm very proud of them."

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    SB ICON Major General rikkuartz's Avatar
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