By Ajay Tyagi
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Roger Federer is standing at a point in his career where he can get into perhaps the very first page of history books. The man from Basel will make, possibly one final attempt to win a career Grand Slam in Sunday's final to become arguably the best tennis player of all times.
In the semifinals today, Federer registered another dramatic 3-6, 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over lanky Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.
Del Potro got the dream start against Federer as he secured the early break against former world no 1 and closed the set 6-3.
No breaks were exchanged in the second set till the tie-break where Federer edged past Del potro 7-6(2) and levelled the match scores at one a piece.
Del Potro unfazed by second set loss, continued to dominate the proceedings and sizzled with his serve. He pocket the third set 6-3.
The fourth set witnessed the Swiss' return to form with some deep forehand returns and blistering serves to quickly wrap it up.
The final set saw Federer clinch an early break in the very first game of the set. From there on, he managed to consolidate the single break and rose to a 5-4 lead. When the 13 time Grand Slam event champion served for the set, he was on the threshold of creating history. With one huge serve in the end, Federer screamed in ecstasy. And this time if there were any tears, they were certainly of joy.
I was under pressure at the start. He had the upper hand at the baseline and deserved to be in the lead. It was important to stay with him and I think my serve got better as the match went on," said Federer.
"I knew I was in with a shot as I had confidence in my physical and mental abilities.
"I think also the conditions helped me. It got slow as the clouds came and became cooler and I knew if I could get the break that things could fall my way," Federer added.
Federer's opponent in the final is Robin Soderling of Sweden, who entered his first career Grand Slam final with a hard fought 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in three hours and 28 minutes at Roland Garros.
Soderling raced to 5-2 lead in the opening set and pocketed it 6-3. In the second set, both the players rallied long and displayed wide array of shots. The lone break of the set came at 5-5 when Soderling broke Gonzalez and wrapped it 7-5.
However the things took complete 'U' turn from there, Gonzalez refused to go down without fighting and resurfaced with newfound power. Gonzalez narrowed the margin of Soderling's lead to 1-2 in the match.
The fourth set was more intensely fought between the players. Gonzalez survived early break and was successful in leveling the match scores at 2-2 when Soderling crumbled under the pressure.
But more drama was still to come, Gonzalez stormed to 3-0 lead in the deciding set and looked all set for the victory. However Soderling was planning rather differently as he started coming to net regularly and suddenly turned the tide in his favour and levelled at 4-4.
Soderling broke Chilean in the next game and held his serve to clinch the victory.
“I was tired,” said Soderling. “I have to admit I was tired. But I felt like, ‘okay’, this is not how it's going to end. I have to try everything I can."
" I felt like I can only do my best, but I didn't want to go off this court and feel like I didn't do my best in the fifth set. So I just tried harder, and all of a sudden it all worked again.”
Soderling added, “My first feeling was actually relief that the match was over, because it was a really long match, and I was tired at the end,”
“And then after a few seconds, I got really, really happy.”
With a win, Soderling becomes the second Swede after Magnus Norman in 2000 to reach the final of the French Open.
After the match a visibly disappointed Gonzalez said,“I did not succeed in doing what I wanted to do today. I didn't want to use my second serve because of the way he would return the ball, but each time I played as if it was a second serve. I do think I didn't play my best tennis, but that's not an excuse. I always try and do my best, and what you saw on the court is all I have.”
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