Simply the best?

Roger Federer has finally laid his hands on the French Open crown with victory over Robin Soderling, completing his full house of Grand Slam titles. Skysports.com looks at how the Swiss will go down in history as one of the best ever.

Last Updated: 10/05/10 11:56am

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Slam success: Federer is congratulated by Andre Agassi following his French Open win

Slam success: Federer is congratulated by Andre Agassi following his French Open win

Sky Bet

Roger Federer was a broken man four months ago after losing an epic Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal, but any tears following his win in Paris would have been of joy after he cemented his place in tennis history.

The 27-year-old beat Swedish surprise package Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 6-4 in the French Open final to move level on 14 major victories with Pete Sampras and become only the sixth man to achieve the career Grand Slam.

"It's up to the fans to judge whether it was the best ever," says the modest and unassuming Federer.

He was hailed by Andre Agassi as "the best I've ever played against" after he beat the American in his last professional match in the 2005 US Open final.

He has now joined the elite group of Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Agassi as the only men to clinch all four major titles.

Agassi, the only other man to achieve the feat in the Open era, believes his triumph confirms Federer's status.

"It ends the discussion of where he fits in the history of the game," said the 1999 Roland Garros champion.

"It's not so much a question of Pete. If it wasn't for Nadal, he probably would have won a handful of these things, so nobody would underestimate where he deserves to fit in this game.

"This is going to mean so much to him, to have that hole filled. I think it will change his life."

Having lost the three previous finals at Roland Garros to Nadal, Federer must have wondered whether his time would ever come on the Paris clay.

But he has time and again proved himself to be a formidable figure in the face of adversity.

Misery

Federer in 2007 equalled Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles, defeating Nadal in five sets to also draw level with Borg and Laver on 11 Grand Slams.

His run of five successive Wimbledon titles came was ended last July by Nadal, who compounded the Swiss' misery by relieving him of the world number one spot the following month.

"It was a fair battle, which was tough with the rain delays," the Basle-born player said after Nadal's 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7 victory at SW19.

"There were some great points and I think we both stayed tough until the very end.

"In tennis unfortunately there have to be winners and losers, there are no draws. But it was probably my hardest loss by far. It doesn't get much harder than this."

Demoted to second in the ATP rankings after an amazing 237 weeks at the top, Federer responded to his summer disappointments by beating Andy Murray in September's US Open final to move within one triumph of equalling Sampras' mark.

That quest was thwarted by Nadal in Melbourne, however, as the powerful Mallorcan battled out a thrilling 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2 win to become Australian Open champion.

Federer was reduced to tears by his Melbourne Park heartache, saying during an emotional post-match speech: "God, this is killing me."

He went on to pay tribute to his rival, who stepped up to the podium to console the beaten finalist in a show of great sportsmanship between the two best players on the planet.

Federer got through the presentation ceremony, but must have been left to ponder whether he had witnessed the changing of the guard with Nadal - five years his junior - now holding three of the four slams.

But he added a steely determination to his grace and elegance on the court to counter that fear and get himself back on the grand-slam trail.

Without an obvious flaw to his game, Federer's greatest strength is perhaps his composure in the face of immense pressure.

It is difficult to imagine a more complete player - or a more worthy addition to the esteemed group of career Grand-Slammers.

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