Federer needs French crown to confirm his place in history

After securing the Wimbledon men's singles title for the third time in a row, the 23-year-old Swiss world No 1 admitted: "I amaze myself how incredibly I use my talent to win.

"Those who have followed me since I was a youngster knew I had potential. But I don't think anybody would have ever thought it would be this extreme, basically dominating the game."

That was certainly the case on Sunday, when Federer dazzled Andy Roddick, beating the 22-year-old American in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4.

Nonetheless, Federer sees room for improvement. He is keen to fulfil his potential by winning more Grand Slam titles, including the French Open on the slow clay of Paris, where in common with players like Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors, he has failed to dominate.

Without the French title, Federer will be unable to take his place in the history books with the five men who have completed a collection of the four Grand Slam singles titles: Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi.

"Somehow," Federer said yesterday, "the motivation is very big to eventually get the French Open. That is the big goal. I have shown I can win the other Grand Slams. The French will be a big goal until the end of my career. Hopefully, I can achieve the dream.

"I will have to play more tournaments on clay against those clay-court players. But I am happy I am not in [Ivan] Lendl's position of never winning Wimbledon. This is my favourite tournament."

As for his place among the greats, Federer said: "It's more up to other people to judge where I am in the context of sport, but with the Laureus Sports Award that I received a few weeks ago, I think it clearly shows that I'm not only competing against other tennis players, but against other sports as well.

"I'm basically carrying the flag for tennis. I got that award for tennis, and in my eyes it's the most prestigious award you can get as an athlete. Definitely if I can keep up the pace like I have, it will be quite interesting in the future."

How far in the future Federer's career will stretch is impossible to forecast. Asked yesterday if he was at his peak, he replied: "I would say so, yes. If this is not the peak, I don't know where we're going.

"You always find ways, little things that make a difference. Over the years you gain in experience. You grow as a man. You get more power. You have more time to work on your shots and your fitness. It's just important to stay fresh mentally. That's why you've got to choose a good schedule. I also consider that as getting smarter and better in the game.

"I think I've made many good choices in the past few years that have kept me away from being injured. I'm very thankful for that. That's what has allowed me to be here as a winner.

"For the moment, I am not satisfied. I have no problem waking up in a morning and going for a practise. I wish I could play sometimes a little different, maybe serve and volley on first and second serve, but it's a risk. In the end I play to win and not really for the fans, but I'm lucky that my game comes across pretty good, so I don't really have to worry about that.

"I remember telling myself when I was younger that people won't see my great shots on Court 17. They will only see them on Centre Court. So I made sure that my ranking was good enough so that I can get there and show it to them.

"But you never know. The day might suddenly be here and you might think: 'I want to do something else with my life and not travel so much'. Then you cut down on the tournaments like Pete [Sampras] did at the end of his career.

"So as long as that moment doesn't come, let's not talk about it."

He will now rest before the build-up to the defence of his US Open title at the end of August. "I'll take a holiday," he said. "I've no tournaments for the next five weeks, so if I wanted I could have five weeks of vacation. But I probably won't do that, because I've got to keep on working on my game and find things still to improve, even though my performance yesterday was almost flawless.

"I'm really looking forward to a two-week vacation. On a beach this time, for a change."

Before that he will go to Basle to drop off his replica trophy.

"This one won't take up too much space," he said. "I have basically 80 per cent of my trophies with me. There are some at my parents' place, but the most important ones are with me. The two Wimbledon trophies and the US Open trophy are in my dining room, and the one from the Aussie Open is in my office.

"This one will definitely replace the US Open, and maybe I'll put that one away in the lounge. We'll see."

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