Swiss celebrate rise of 'King Roger'

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The Independent Online

Just one word accompanied the photograph of Roger Federer on the front of yesterday's edition of the daily, Le Matin - "Yes!"

After two weeks where enthusiasm and hope increased day by day but nothing was taken for granted, the Swiss media was finally able to install Federer as the country's latest sporting hero. Although Martina Hingis won the women's title in 1997 and took four other Grand Slam titles, Federer was the first Swiss man even to make it to the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament.

The Lausanne daily, 24 Heures, inspired by the huge golden trophy and the traditional royal attendance at the Wimbledon final, crowned the champion, "Federer the First".

The mass circulation daily, Blick, had the same idea. It hailed "King Roger I" and offered its readers a full-page poster of an emotional Federer holding the Wimbledon trophy up to the cheering crowd.

"Now Roger is truly one of the greats," the paper said. Blick produced a table of Swiss sporting greats based on popularity, international renown and earnings and placed Federer in first place jointly with Ferdi Kübler, winner of the 1950 Tour de France. Hingis was fourth.

"A genius changes the world of tennis forever," said Federer's hometown paper Basler Zeitung. In Zurich, Tages-Anzeiger described Federer's victory as a fairy tale, beginning its report: "Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted to play perfect tennis..."

"With the best academies and training programs players of the quality of Federer cannot be 'bred'," said the Bern daily Der Bund. "Big countries like Germany, England and France envy Switzerland for Federer."

Celebrating the beginning of "the Federer Era" the Tribune de Genève highlighted the victory of a player with an old-fashioned, more traditional style of play - a "breath of fresh air" after all the big hitters that bore spectators. "No, tennis isn't dead! Roger Federer is the saviour we've been waiting for," it said.

Sunday's match was broadcast live on three Swiss TV channels to allow commentary in German, French and Italian. The Swiss should have a first chance to salute their hero in person today, when Federer is due to play in the first round of the Gstaad Open.

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