Federer a man apart after French triumph

Swiss hails greatest ever victory as he completes his collection of Grand Slams

Roger Federer's quest to win the French Open, the only Grand Slam title which had eluded him, finally ended when he beat Robin Soderling here in last night's final. In claiming his 14th Grand Slam victory, which equals Pete Sampras's all-time record, the 27-year-old Swiss also became only the sixth man to win all four of the game's major crowns.

"It's maybe my greatest victory, or certainly the one that removes the most pressure off my shoulders," Federer said after his 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 triumph. "I think that now and until the end of my career I can really play with my mind at peace and no longer hear that I've never won Roland Garros."

Having lost to Rafael Nadal in the three previous finals, Federer needed less than two hours to beat Soderling, a 24-year-old Swede who had never previously gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam tournament. The match was interrupted early in the second set by an intruder who taunted Federer before being rugby-tackled by a security guard.

Federer, who said the incident was "a touch scary", admitted that he had felt nervous throughout the match. "It was very hard mentally for me because my mind was always wondering: 'What if? What if I win this tournament? What does that mean? What will I possibly say?' You can't help it, but you have to tell yourself that once you win you'll get all the time to think about all these things.

"I was very nervous at the beginning of the third set because I realised how close I was. You can imagine how difficult the last game was. It 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."

Federer said that the years of waiting to win here had made victory all the more special. "It was only in the last few years that I realised what a great player I could actually become if I won the French Open," he said. "I started to love this city and the people and the centre court, whereas in the beginning I had such a hard time getting used to the conditions here."

He added: "I knew that the day Rafa wouldn't be in the final I would be there and I would win. I always knew that and I believed in it. That's exactly what happened." Soderling, who never recaptured his form of the previous week, was gracious in defeat. "I've never played anyone playing that fast," he said. "He doesn't have any weaknesses at all. He really deserves to be called the best player of all time."

Sampras, who watched the match at his home in Los Angeles, said he was happy for Federer. "What he's done over the past five years has never, ever been done – and probably will never, ever happen again," he said. "Regardless if he won there or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it." Nadal said that he would be sending Federer a congratulatory text message "because he deserves the title the most".

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?